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Statement on the seizure of the hospital in Ratchaburi, Thailand, by Karen solders of God's Army

From the Karen National League, BurmaNet News
26 January 2000

Based on the international and local news media (BBC, AP, Bangkok Post), the following is a chronology of what we believe (this might change later as we get more updates) to be some of the main events that lead up to the seizure of the hospital and the aftermath.

The SPDC increased their usual atrocities and oppression of Karen non-combatants in the Tavoy area due to the combination of the usual dry season increase in fighting and their desire to punish God's Army for harboring the perpetrators of the Burmese embassy takeover about 3 months ago.

SPDC troops, apparently in collusion with the Thai 9th Infantry Division, crossed into Thai soil to outflank God's Army. This caused God's Army to plant land mines (in the poorly marked Burma-Thai border) to prevent the SPDC from doing this again. Four Thai soldiers were killed as a result of stepping on these land mines. The Thai 9th Infantry Division retaliated by bombarding the area where God's Army and some internally displaced persons (IDPs) were. This resulted in the death of about 200-300 Karens.

Because of the above bombardment and what God's Army personnel saw as other unjust treatments such as the refusal of some local Thai authorities in the area refusing to treat injured Karens, and not offering refuge to civilians, but instead, pushing them back to Burma, God's Army personnel seized the hospital in Ratchaburi.

This seizure resulted in about 200 innocent Thais becoming hostages with God's Army demanding that the 9th Infantry Division stop the shelling to prevent further killings of IDPs, and redress of other issues that they saw as unjust. It must be pointed out that overall, the Thai nation and people as a whole have been very sympathetic and understanding of the plight and situation of the Karens (both refugees and IDPs). It is only certain individuals and groups that are making life difficult for the refugees and IDPs.

The Thais seeing the seizure of the hospital as a violation of their sovereignty had their commandos storm the hospital to attempt a hostage rescue. According to the local Thai authorities at the scene, ten God's Army soldiers were killed while no hostages were harmed.

It is the policy of the Karen National League to abhor and condemn any situation where combatants/authorities through specific targeting or gross callousness subject innocent civilians to lethal force for military or political aims whether they be SPDC, Karens, concerned authorities, or anyone.

Karen National League
Policy Affairs Department
2000 Jan 26

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