Thailand stopping Myanmar refugees

Airstrikes in Myanmar have forced many refugees to flee to nearby Thailand, where activists say thousands were forced to turn back.

Video Transcript

SIOBAN ROBBINS: In Myanmar, slingshots against bullets. Junta forces have killed more than 450 people. Air strikes over the weekend forcing thousands from their homes. While some fled to the nearby forest, many others crossed the border to Thailand, hoping for refuge. This group of men, women, and children are among them. But activists say the protection they sought has been denied. They claim more than 2,000 have been sent back to the homes they ran from.

MARK FARMANER: Thailand is training the Myanmar military. The Thai companies are doing business with the Myanmar military. And they provide political support to the Myanmar military. So Thailand is backing the people who are causing the refugees and then punishing the refugees when they have to flee the violence and attacks from the military.

SIOBAN ROBBINS: Today the Thai authorities denied any such pushback and said they would continue to look after refugees. The prime minister said earlier, the country was preparing to accept them.

PRAYUTH CHAN-OCHA: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].

INTERPRETER: Please let this be an internal issue for us. We don't want to have an exodus of refugees or even evacuations into our territory. But we will observe human rights too.

SIOBAN ROBBINS: Today our path to the refugees was blocked, Thai military saying access was restricted due to COVID-19. But locals told us they believe more people are preparing to cross the border. The bank on the far side of the river that is in Myanmar, so for people who are running for their lives Thailand is tantalizingly close.

But not all routes here are safe. We're told the buildings on the top of that hill are an army base belonging to the Myanmar military. But as the death toll in Myanmar continues to mount, people will look for anywhere they can find safety. Siobhan Robbins, Sky News, on Thai border.