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BWA asks U.N. to aid refugees attacked at Thai/Burma border

WASHINGTON (BP)–The Baptist World Alliance has appealed to the United Nations to help solve a political crisis between the military government of Burma and Karen refugees.
More than 100,000 Baptist refugees live under constant attack on the Thai/Burma border, according to the BWA.
The BWA’s most recent appeal on behalf of the Karen refugees came after the news that, on March 11, 1,600 huts in the Huay Kalok refugee camp were burned by the Democratic Buddhist Karen Army, supported by the Burma military government.
According to reports received at the BWA, the attackers used automatic rifles and grenades, among other weapons, to burn down the camp. Twenty people were wounded, an unknown number kidnapped, and some of the reports say two people were killed. Thai government troops assigned to guard the camps offered no resistance, according to the reports.
“It is a tragedy in a civilized society that the government of Myanmar (Burma) continues to abuse its refugees,” said Denton Lotz, BWA general secretary, in his appeal to Kofi Anan, U.N. secretary general.
“It is time the international community takes responsible action to preserve the rights of Karen refugees in Thailand,” Lotz wrote.
In December 1996, a BWA team visited the refugee camp at Maesot, Thailand, as part of a BWA human rights visit. The team included Lotz; Tony Cupit, BWA director for study and research; Thorwald Lorenzen, chair of the BWA Human Rights Commission; and Edwin Lopez, former general secretary of the Asian Baptist Federation.
In spite of the constant harassment from military government troops and their uncertain future in Thailand, the Karen refugees have set up churches and schools and continue to baptize believers, the BWA reported.