November 8th, 2010
10:27 AM ET

Thousands flee Myanmar into Thailand

Thai troops run for cover as fire from the Myanmar side of the Thai-Myanmar border spilled into Thailand on Monday.

About 10,000 people from Myanmar fled across the border into Thailand on Monday to escape fighting between Myanmar government forces and a splinter group of rebels of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, military and border officials told CNN.

The rebels and Myanmar forces clashed over control of the town of Myawaddy, which sits across the Moei River from Mae Sot, Thailand. The Thailand-Burma Friendship bridge connects the two towns.

Lt. Col. Vannathit Wongwai, commander of Thailand's 3rd Region Army, said Myanmar military officials told him they had retaken control of Myawaddy at 5 p.m. local time after bringing in 500 reinforcements to battle the Karen splinter group.

At least five Myanmar refugees and five Thais were injured in the fighting. Shells fell on the Thai side of the border, but the Thai military did not return fire, military officials told the Bangkok Post.

According to a report on the website Burma Election Tracker, the clashes began when DKBA militia members who had been employed as government border security troops rebelled because the Myanmar military was forcing people to vote at gunpoint.

"In order to win votes in the elections, [the junta] is bullying and forcing people to vote. But the people want to boycott [the vote], so the soldiers are holding them at gunpoint and our troops had to intervene and take sides with the people," the website report quotes Brig. Gen. Na Kham Mwe, head of the breakaway DKBA faction, as saying.

Polls were supposed to have closed Sunday in Myanmar's first election in 20 years, which critics have called a façade of democracy put forth by the ruling military junta.

Opposition parties were either limited in the candidates they could run or boycotted the election altogether. The junta did not allow international monitors.

The Karen ethnic minority in Myanmar is divided into two main groups, Buddhists who support the ruling junta and Christians who do not. Those behind Monday's clashes have split from the pro-junta group.

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Filed under: Myanmar • Thailand • World
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. cesar

    @CNN. So.

    November 8, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • KeyserSoze

      So Cesar, perhaps you would like someone to hold an AK47 to your head while forcing you to vote for a totalitarian military junta, or lose your head. Wake up as your country is next.

      November 8, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. Pat

    Sucks when you have to flee an oppressive country into the next door oppressive country...

    November 8, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Sara

      not sure what aspects [of Thailand] you're referring to, but Burma is waaaaaay more oppressive than Thailand.

      November 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ye

    Burma is Doomed! God Help us all!!!!

    November 8, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  4. Run Away!

    Flee! Escape! Run! There's a guy coming this way with a gun!

    November 8, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. Evener

    Hey, at least they vote in that country, guns or no.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Manzilla

      "...Myanmar's first election in 20 years, which critics have called a façade of democracy put forth by the ruling military junta." Read the entire article first.

      November 8, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Nancy

      You are an absolute idiot.

      November 8, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Have you no decency?

    Having myself been to Mae Sot and Myawaddy, I am appalled that anyone is laughing about the situation on the border. The oppression, the threat, the poverty, is real. If you have nothing nice to say, and no rational thoughts to offer, take your inconsiderate comments somewhere else.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Have you no reading comprehension?

      Where's the laughter at what is happening? I see comedy of a different sort. Try looking a little closer, or clean your glasses. You jump to conclusions too quickly.

      November 8, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Frank

    People,
    Even though it' been 40 years since I have been in Thailand,Southeast Asia has not changed except for the U.S.
    losing South Vietam.It is still a Hell Pit.To paraphrase an old movie; I miss the sound of Gunfire and the smell of Napalm just before dawn.The WORLD goes on and on and on!

    November 8, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. sgt. slaughter

    @ no decency,,,,,

    guess you ran away too......?

    Why don't you go back there and help those poor people??

    Ya dopey LIB....

    November 8, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      There's one in every forum.

      November 8, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. Corvus

    Quoted from the text: "...the clashes began when DKBA militia members who had been employed as government border security troops rebelled because the Myanmar military was forcing people to vote at gunpoint."

    VOTING AT GUNPOINT. One can hardly blame them for rebellion. This is, indeed, a 'facade of democracy,' and this military junta is one of the most disgusting regimes on the planet.

    Long live Aung San Suu Kyi !

    November 8, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. max

    Voting at gunpoint? surprised the republicans haven't added that to their playbook for winning elections one way or another

    November 8, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rob

    To be a Republican, these are the criteria you have to have,
    1) Low intellect
    2) Drop out from school or university (if with a college degree, GPA is around 2-2.5)
    3) Selfish (They can sell anything for personal gain)
    4) They only know me, me and me
    6) Greedy
    7) How to steal someone’s wealth.
    8) War monger, which points to #7.
    9) Use religion for their own gain (Like Taliban)
    The comments you see here, you can tell who they are. In a nut shell you can conclude that you have to have a criminal mind to be Republican.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Funny, that looks like the same list for the democrat side haha, ya are more alike then you know. The list for the independats is:
      Pick a candidate that best fits the need.

      That is it.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Rob.
      I am an Independant ,but unfortunatly you sound like a Facist.Stalinist Communist to me.I am really happy I fought for this Country to allow people like you to live in a relatively Free society.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vicarious

      @Frank
      You do know that Fascism and Communism are entirely opposite, right? I appreciate your past service and I show my respect by performing those duties today, but bear in mind that things aren't very cut and dry. Our President is handling the situation he was given. Pres. Bush put us there and while I would love to see Pres. Obama bring our troops home today, it's just not that simple. If we abandon our position there, the region will delve further into chaos and we will be hurt politically. That is the same reason Pres. Bush didn't bring everyone home. When things are stable, then they will return. Let us hope that that time comes sooner rather than later.

      We need to worry less about left or right and more about our country as a whole. I don't personally care who is in office, so long as the well being of the nation is the priority and not the political squabble that seems to be all over the place. I'm hoping you feel the same way.

      November 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • falcon5

      Vicarious,
      Actually Pres Bush isn't the one who got us into this situation. He's one of the ones. Every action taken, policy put forth, or government backed in the Muslim world by the US has gotten us here. Both parties have done equally bad in that area of the world. Not that any of that has anything to do specifically with this story.

      November 8, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      Vicarius – Look up Fascist and then look up Joe Stalin. Lenin was a Communist. Stalin was a Fascist who subverted the mechanisms of Communism to establish himself as dictator.

      November 8, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vicarious

      @Kraznodar
      Stalin was not a fascist, he was very much a Communist. So communist was he, that he would lead the United Soviet Socialist Republic after Lenin. Note the word "Socialist" in there – he was communist. One of the core tenets of being Fascist is to be anti Communist, which he most certainly was not. No offense, but I advise you look that up again. Stalin is Communism. Benito Mussolini is Fascism. The two ideologies are the very far left and the very far right.

      November 8, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vicarious

      @Vicarious heh

      BTW that's Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (before anyone says anything). I'll toss that up to having been 11 when the USSR collapsed.

      November 9, 2010 at 5:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. Igorot

    The Burmese people are doomed to suffer, yet the indifference of its neighbors. China had huge influence due to its natural gas. The Philippines was a lone voice during the Asia summit in Vietnam. Thailand seemed not to care and Laos have their own pressing problems. How long will the people of Burma endure, I do not have a clue.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Timehascome

      Western nations need to STOP all muslim immigration and recruit these refugees from Myanmar/Burma, PLEASE!! Thailand does not care because it already has been overrun with refugees in camps on its borders for years. Europe/UK wants immigration – please help these people do the paperwork! Muslims know the ropes & know how keep up the pressure to immigrate, then demand to end western freedoms. These refugees from Myanmar/Burma can appreciate western freedoms and could make peaceful citizens, but they do need connections so please assist them.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ET

    Dictators do not listen when the people they are oppresing are unarmed.
    But when people armed themselves the dictators listen.
    The day of Gandhi is over, I just hope somenation supports this rebel with arms.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. muhrvis

    Saying that "critics argue the election is a sham" is like saying that "physicists argue that the world is round." What a stupid story by CNN. The events themselves that are described expose what Burma is really about...

    November 8, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    @Pat... Thailand is not an oppressive country. I'll guess you've never lived there, don't speak the language, and therefore don't know much about the history or culture of Thailand.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
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