A nonprofit organization that focuses on the protection of human rights posted a video showing Thai soldiers destroying a footbridge used by Burmese refugees to flee from Myanmar to Thailand.
In the video, which was uploaded to YouTube by Fortify Rights on Tuesday, a Thai soldier can be seen asking, “What are you filming, f*cker? You want to die?” The soldier and the cameraperson stand on opposite sides of the river as the video is filmed. Another soldier can be seen in the video dismantling one end of the bamboo bridge, whacking the wood apart with what appears to be a long blade.
The bridge originally crossed over the Wa Le River, which lies between Thailand and Myanmar.
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
Countless people have been fleeing Myanmar since a military coup overthrew the country’s democratically elected leaders on Feb. 1, 2021. The military’s detainees included democracy icon, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Since earlier this year, airstrikes and mass killings in the easterrn states of Myanmar have caused thousands to seek refuge in Thailand.
However, most who manage to escape live in terrible conditions, using makeshift tents for shelter and having inadequate access to food, water and medicine.
At the end of the video, Fortify Rights calls on Thai authorities to “investigate their forces’ treatment of refugees” and “abide by the principle of non-refoulement,” which is described by the United Nations as a fundamentental principle of international law that “guarantees no one be returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm.” It is an “essential protection” that applies to all migrants, “irrespective of migration status.”
The Thai government has reportedly restricted access to the refugees, only allowing a small group of humanitarian groups to give them donations.
Patrick Phongsathron, a human rights advocacy specialist at Fortify Rights, claims the Thai government is “playing politics” by trying to remain on cordial terms with Myanmar’s military while also supposedly making promises to countries that have pressured them to allow access to humanitarian aid, such as the U.S.