Govt urges military rulers to hold talks with protesters

Govt urges military rulers to hold talks with protesters

The Foreign Ministry is urging Myanmar's military rulers to hold talks with political dissidents to end the conflict as Thailand prepares for a possible influx of refugees escaping violence there.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said Thai authorities on the border were assessing the situation in Myanmar to make sure things don't get out of hand.

"Some have already arrived," Mr Don said. "But we hope they won't flock across the border in large numbers."

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha discussed the issue with his deputies, Mr Don said.

"We hope that peace will be restored soon or at least an avenue for dialogue should be kept open," Mr Don said. "As long as there is still the possibility of talks, they might find common ground.

"If so, that would benefit neighbouring countries in Asean. Thailand is keeping a close watch."

Maj Gen Terdsak Ngamsanong, chief-of-staff at the Third Army Corps, said that shelters were being prepared for refugees who might flee from Myanmar to Tak province.

He said two groups of refugees were expected to cross the border -- one comprising those who wanted to escape the Covid-19 outbreak, and the other will be those affected by the power seizure by the military junta, which may include political dissidents and anti-coup students.

A source in the Third Army Region said if there is a huge influx of refugees, plans are in place to screen and send them to local quarantine facilities.

If the situation improves, Thai authorities would revert to only admitting those who were genuinely fleeing political violence.

Army Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae said that temporary shelters will be set up on the border to receive and screen refugees for humanitarian reasons.

AFP reported that roads out of Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon, were choked with people fleeing the junta's deadly crackdown on anti-coup dissent, triggered after the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1.

The junta also this week imposed martial law over six townships in Yangon, the nation's former capital and commercial hub, effectively putting nearly two million people under the direct control of military commanders.

In light of these events, Tak provincial governor Pongrat Piromrat said: "If many Myanmar people flow across the border because of an urgent case, we have prepared the measures ... to receive them."

He said Tak province would be able to support about 30,000 to 50,000 migrants, but confirmed that numbers were still low at present.

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