Mergui-Tavoy Interview: Hpuh A---, January 2017


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Mergui-Tavoy Interview: Hpuh A---, January 2017

Published date:
Friday, October 6, 2017

This Interview with Hpuh A--- describes events occurring in Dawei Township, Mergui-Tavoy District in January 2017, including the current refugee situation and the refugee repatriation process from Myanmar/Thailand border camps.

  • Hpuh A--- reports that refugees living in Tham Hin refugee camp on the Thai border, do not want to go back to Burma/Myanmar as they perceive that there is no stability in Burma/Myanmar.
  • The Thai government has informed refugees in Tham Hin refugee camp that they can go back to Burma/Myanmar; nevertheless, many refugees request that United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), relevant Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the Karen National Union (KNU) make housing, security, livelihoods, education, and healthcare arrangements to support their repatriation.
  • In addition, many refugees also request the Tatmadaw to withdraw their army camps so that repatriated refugees can feel secure and free. 


[1] KHRG trains community members in southeastern Burma/Myanmar to document individual human rights abuses using a standardised reporting format; conduct interviews with other villagers; and write general updates on the situation in areas with which they are familiar. When conducting interviews, community members are trained to use loose question guidelines, but also to encourage interviewees to speak freely about recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important and share their opinions or perspectives on abuse and other local dynamics.

[2] In order to increase the transparency of KHRG methodology and more directly communicate the experiences and perspectives of villagers in southeastern Burma/Myanmar, KHRG aims to make all field information received available on the KHRG website once it has been processed and translated, subject only to security considerations. For additional reports categorised by Type, Issue, Location and Year, please see the Related Readings component following each report on KHRG’s website.

[3] Hpuh is a Karen term of respect for an elderly man that translates to “grandfather,” but it does not necessarily signify any actual familial relationship.

[4] For more background information on the location and history of Tham Hin refugee camp, please see “Where We Work: Tham Hin,” The Border Consortium.

[5] On October 15th 2015, after a negotiation process marred with controversy over the notable non-inclusion of several ethnic armed groups and on-going conflicts in ethnic regions, a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was signed between the Burma/Myanmar government and eight of the fifteen ethnic armed groups originally invited to the negotiation table, including the KNU, see “Myanmar signs ceasefire with eight armed groups,” Reuters, October 15th 2015. Despite the signing of the NCA prompting a positive response from the international community, see “Myanmar: UN chief welcomes ‘milestone’ signing of ceasefire agreement,” UN News Centre, October 15th 2015, KNU Chairman General Saw Mutu Say Poe’s decision to sign has been met with strong opposition from other members of the Karen armed resistance and civil society groups alike, who believe the decision to be undemocratic and the NCA itself to be a superficial agreement that risks undermining a genuine peace process, see “Without Real Political Roadmap, Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement Leads Nowhere...,” Karen News, September 1st 2015. The signing of the NCA followed the January 12th 2012 preliminary ceasefire agreement between the KNU and Burma/Myanmar government in Hpa-an. For KHRG's analysis of changes in human rights conditions since the preliminary ceasefire, see Truce or Transition? Trends in human rights abuse and local response since the 2012 ceasefire, KHRG, May 2014.

[6] More information on this survey can be found on the following Karen News article: “Refugee Survey – Most Do Not Want To Go Back To Burma,” July 2013.

[7] Hpuh A---‘s summary of the different types of refugees in Tham Hin refugee camp reflects a complex situation along the Thai-Myanmar border in which those who strategically displace have multiple and overlapping motivations. All residents in the Tham Hin refugee camp nonetheless are officially recognised by UNHCR as refugees because they all have “a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.”