“การส่งกลับโดยสมัครใจ หมายถึง การที่ผู้ลี้ภัยกลับคืนถิ่นฐานของตนได้อย่างปลอดภัย และ สมศักดิ์ศรี ด้วยความสมัครใจและเป็นอิสระ”
(สำนักข้าหลวงใหญ่ผู้ลี้ภัยแห่งสหประชาชาติ, Repatriation Handbook)
“When we arrived here, the rangers from Mae Saku told us that we couldn’t stay on the riverbank and expose ourselves to people. We must walk up the hill and there would be sufficient water for us. So we spent an hour walking to Klo Pa and stayed there. But yesterday, the soldiers from Tha Ta Fang said we came too deep inside Thailand. It’s illegal and we could be arrested and charged for illegal entry. We didn’t know what to say. A group of Thai authorities told us to go there and the other said that we violated Thai laws for doing so.”
“There was one officer who wasn’t very happy to see our community leader had a walkie-talkie in his hand. This officer started yelling and yelling at our faces and said he wanted to search our leader’s bag. We were all scared. Our leader was scared too so he allowed them to do whatever they wanted with his bag. This officer kept shouting; his face twisted with anger. All villagers were in fear. We felt terrible.”
“Another soldier who spoke Karen told us that the above commander told them to do a search if there’s anything unusual.
He said there’s no problem at all. But at the time no one wanted to ask or say anything. This morning the soldiers searched 2 of the villager’s shelters. People there were afraid and didn’t understand what they were accused of.”
“We told the Thai authorities that no one wanted to flee to here. It’s not our home. It’s not convenient. Everything is difficult. No water. No shelter. Not enough to eat. But we were in fear so we had to come. We had to take our children and elders to safety. This morning, among the returnees, there were 20 people who were having diarrhea, 6 people with PF malaria, and some others with PV type. In this condition, it isn’t easy to run again. So we asked the Thai soldiers whether they could guarantee their words that the Burmese soldiers wouldn’t attack us again? He said no, he couldn’t. But if the plane comes or if there’s fighting, you can just come again, he said.”
“We have been on a constant run: fleeing from the Burmese soldiers, fleeing from the airstrikes, fleeing from flashflood, and fleeing from the windy storm. We flee from this and that and we are too exhausted to flee.”
“On the way going back, there were 2 Thai soldiers standing there. One of us said thank you to them for allowing us to stay here even if it’s a short period of time. He said that he wished that in their lives they didn’t have to face such terrible situation as we did and that they wouldn’t have to experience such scary airstrikes and flee to other people’s country like we did”
Told by a refugee who was pushed back on May the 9th, 2021.