Thai Government Defends Refugee Repatriation

A file photograph showing a Myanmar (Burma) refugee at Mae La refugee camp near the Thai-Burma border in the north-western region of Thailand, 01 June 2012. Thailand's military government defended on Fridayits decision to repatriate Myanmar refugees but has not set any timetables as of yet. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN

BANGKOK (DPA) — Thailand's military government Friday defended its decision to repatriate Myanmar refugees but says there are no set timetables as of yet.

"The safety and dignity [of refugees] is vital," the government said in a press release.

"Further discusssions are needed with all relevant partners including the UNHCR." 

NGOs in the region had originally voiced concern over safety and logistics in repatriating nearly 130,000 refugees to Myanmar.

The refugees have been sheltering in Thailand for nearly three decades after escaping from bloody sectarian conflicts and civil war.

The issue of repatriation surfaced when the head of Thailand's ruling junta said in a televised address that talks had been held between the two governments over the issue.

Meanwhile the MCOT, a government run broadcaster, quoted the deputy head of the military government, Prajin Juntong, as saying the drafting of the provisional constitution, which would govern Thailand for the next year, was finished.