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Thailand 7 April 2005

Burmese journalists threatened by Thai government decision on refugees

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association voiced alarm today about a Thai government decision on 9 March to make all Burmese refugees move to camps along the Burmese border by 31 March, and about its threat to send all those who do not comply back to Burma.

The two organizations said this is having a catastrophic impact on the work of Burmese journalists who are refugees in Thailand and called on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to intervene with the Thai authorities to ensure that the freedom of movement of journalists is guaranteed.

Although Thailand is not a party to the United Nations Refugee Convention, Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association believe the Thai government has a duty to respect certain principles of international law designed to protect persons in danger.

In these camps, the refugees are cut off from the rest of the world. As access to telephone, radio and computers is strictly forbidden, journalists would be completely unable to work. As a result, some have decided to go underground in order to be able to continue working.

Burmese correspondents of international radio stations confirmed this to Reporters Without Borders. Fear and a feeling of insecurity have taken hold of the journalists who are now working clandestinely. They run the risk of being arrested at any moment and sent back to Rangoon, where imprisonment and torture would almost certainly await them.

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