What do Thais think of Myanmar?

Heavy fighting in Myanmar on the border with Thailand

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Mae Hong Son - Serious clashes broke out in Myanmar Tuesday morning at an army outpost near the eastern border with Thailand. Karen ethnic minority forces took the base between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., the head of the Karen National Union (KNU) for foreign affairs, Padoh Saw Taw Nee, told Reuters. The camp had been burned down.

The number of fatalities and injuries is still unclear. Villagers said they saw seven soldiers fleeing towards the jungle. According to the KNU spokesman, there were also disputes in other places, he did not provide any further details.

Opposite the town of Mae Sam Laep

A Thai official confirmed the fighting in the border region. "There has been fierce fighting at the Myanmar Army outpost across from Mae Sam Laep city," said the Mae Hong Son province official. There have been no reports of fatalities on the Thai side, with one person alleged to have been slightly injured. Eyewitnesses reported fighting on the other side of the Salween river. Videos on social media showed rising flames and smoke.

On Tuesday, the military also commented "positively" on proposals from the special summit of the Community of East Asian States (Asean) on Saturday. The Asean had asked Myanmar's military representatives to hold talks with the government they elected and put to the government. Myanmar was represented at the summit of the ten states by army chief Min Aung Hlaing.

Opponents of the junta

The KNU said at least 24,000 people had been displaced by the violence of the past few weeks, including the Myanmar army air strikes, and were seeking refuge in the jungle. The military had put in a coup on February 1 and deposed the de facto head of government Aung San Suu Kyi. Some of Myanmar's two dozen armed groups - including the KNU - are supporting opponents of the junta allegedly killing more than 750 civilians in an attempt to quell protests.

Meanwhile, the clashes between the protesters and the military take place not only in the metropolises, but also in rural areas. Especially the eastern state of Kayin, which lies on the border with Thailand, reports many people displaced by the violence.

Escape to neighboring countries

Because of the fighting and the coup, thousands of people fled to Thailand and India - 3,000 over the Thai border last month alone. At the same time, there were reports that the authorities in both countries were rejecting the refugees from Myanmar. Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-char said that his country was preparing for further arrivals: "We do not want mass migration to our territory, but we will also think about human rights," he told the AP news agency.

At least one Indian border region has already resisted the instruction to "politely turn away" the people. And in the Chinese border town of Ruili, authorities have traced a coronavirus outbreak to Myanmar refugees, which has led to defensiveness against the people. The United Nations Refugee Agency has issued a warning. In this it reminds that according to international law it is illegal to reject refugees. (bbl, APA, April 27, 2021)

Note: The text has been expanded to include current developments.