The Nation - Thursday, November 06, 2003
US civil rights leader the Reverend Jesse Jackson yesterday called for
increased pressure to be applied on Burma's military junta and appealed
to the Thai government to treat refugees humanely.
made his calls after visiting the Ban Kwai displaced persons camp,
about three kilometres from the Burmese border in the northern province
of Mae Hong Son.
He is in Thailand as part of an international human-rights and peace campaign.
[the refugees] have the natural right to live in Burma in peace and
have the international right to be here [in Thailand] while the former
option is not yet possible,' Jackson said prior to his trip as he spoke
at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand on Tuesday.
18,256 residents of the camp, mainly belonging to the Karenni ethnic
minority, have fled their homes in Burma due to brutal repression by
the country's ruling junta.
government plans to close down all the refugee camps in the country,
amid strong concerns from human-rights groups that repatriating them
could put the refugees' lives in danger as political unrest in Burma
Jackson called on the
world community to 'apply more economic and diplomatic pressure' on the
generals who rule Burma to compel them to stop the repression that
causes refugees to flee to Thailand and other neighbouring countries.
veteran rights campaigner also commented on Thailand's role after it
received Major Non-Nato Ally status from Washington last month, saying
that he hoped the Thai government would not trade off the needs of its
people to the war in Iraq.
'We spend too much money on war [while] our children need education so they will not end up becoming child labour,' he said.
visit to Thailand was arranged by the International Peace Foundation,
which is organising a 'peace summit' of political leaders and Nobel
Prize winners in Thailand from this month until April next year.
Nation Channel (TTV 1) will broadcast Jackson's exclusive interview
with Nation Group editor-in-chief Suthichai Yoon tomorrow at 10pm.