Thai officials block launch of report on human rights abuses in Karen State

Thai police on Wednesday (April 25) cancelled an event to launch a new report on human rights abuses in Karen State by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) and warning of a humanitarian crisis there, The Irrawaddy Online reported.

The Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN) originally planned to launch the report, “The Nightmare Returns: Karen Hopes to Peace and Stability Dashed by Burma Army Actions” in Chiang Mai University.

However, the group was informed on Tuesday that the university had cancelled its booking. The event was moved to a new venue and rescheduled on Wednesday, but the police showed up at the second venue and shut down the event.

Besides the new report, the group also planned a documentary film screening, photo exhibition and two panel discussions in order to raise support for more than 2,400 displaced Karen civilians.

The commander of 3rd army region asked Chiang Mai University to reconsider its permission to allow the Karen non-governmental group to hold the event following a request from the Myanmar military attache, said Chayan Vaddhanaphuti, director of Chiang Mai University’s Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development.

He said that this was the first time that the centre’s event was blocked by government officials which he described as an “intervention against academic freedom.”

KPSN has documented cases of over 2,400 displaced Karen from 12 villages who were forced to flee their homes by Myanmar military operations.