Karen bor­der guards threaten to shut fron­tier with Thai­land

The Myanmar Times - - News -

THE leader of the Karen Bor­der Guard Force (BGF) has threat­ened to close the Myan­mar bor­der in Kan­chanaburi and Tak prov­inces if Thai au­thor­i­ties en­force of­fi­cial bor­der-cross­ing hours on all routes, in­clud­ing paths used by gam­blers.

Gen­eral Maung Chit Htoo, leader of the Karen BGF, made the threat at a press con­fer­ence close to the bor­der, across from Mae Sot dis­trict of Tak province on Novem­ber 11.

He said if Thai au­thor­i­ties strictly en­force 5:30am to 8:30pm bor­der cross­ing hours on all routes start­ing on Novem­ber 16, the BGF would close the en­tire bor­der in Tak and ad­join­ing Kan­chanaburi.

“I don’t want that to hap­pen. But as talks did not lead to an un­der­stand­ing, it will be closed,” Gen Maung Chit Htoo said.

“Lo­cal Thai and Myan­mar peo­ple un­der­stand each other and live to­gether. They have good ties, like sib­lings. To­day, the sol­diers have been re­placed. I don’t know why there must be a pol­icy on bor­der cross­ings along nat­u­ral paths that have been in use for decades.”

Of­fi­cial bor­der-cross­ing hours are en­forced at the Thai-Myan­mar Friend­ship Bridge check­point in Mae Sot, but peo­ple on both sides of the Moei River, which forms the bor­der, reg­u­larly cross the fron­tier along nat­u­ral pas­sages around the clock.

Lo­cal res­i­dents said gam­blers also use these paths to visit casi­nos close to the bor­der in Kayin State’s Myawady.

Gen Maung Chit Htoo said strict en­force­ment would have a big eco­nomic im­pact. Thai au­thor­i­ties should re­view the pol­icy.

Oth­er­wise, the BGF would close the bor­der from Ban Mae Ta­wor vil­lage in Tha Song Yang dis­trict of Tak to the Three Pago­das bor­der pass in Kan­chanaburi province, he said.

“All passes and all piers would be closed. There would be no busi­ness done. We, the Karen peo­ple, can live sim­ply on rice and fer­mented fish,” Gen Maung Chit Htoo said. Karen Bor­der Guard Force

The BGF closed dozens of bor­der piers for days in March in protest at Thai au­thor­i­ties’ re­quire­ment that all fuel ex­ports be car­ried by trucks across the Friend­ship Bridge, not de­liv­ered by boats or pipe­lines across the Moei River. The rule was re­laxed, but Thai en­ergy au­thor­i­ties re-im­posed the re­stric­tion late last month.

Thai au­thor­i­ties in Mae Sot have not of­fi­cially an­nounced that strict bor­der cross­ing hours will be en­forced on all routes from Novem­ber 16, but they have been mak­ing prepa­ra­tions to im­ple­ment it. –

‘I don’t want that to hap­pen. But as talks did not lead to an un­der­stand­ing, it [bor­der cross­ings] will be closed.’

Gen­eral Maung Chit Htoo

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