Refugee Woman’s Suspicious Death Raises Many Questions…

A woman from Mae La refugee camp on the Thai Burma border was found dead in suspicious circumstances in close proximity to the camp.

Camp officials confirmed that a woman refugee was found dead in a nearby forest close to Zone-C, of the Mae La refugee camp in Tak Province.

The Mae La Camp’s chairman, Saw Honest, told Karen News that the dead woman was identified as Naw Sein Hla Aye, 37, and a resident of section (2), Zone-B in Mae La Camp. The woman was reported missing on September 23 and her half naked body was found two days later at 7:00am, September 25.

Speaking to Karen News the camp leader, Saw Honest said.

“No one knows how she died. When the officials found the body, her body was undressed from her waist down. Her neck was also broken and there was bruising to her body.”

Camp officials confirmed that Thai security officials had found injuries on Naw Sein Hla Aye’s body. The dead woman’s body was placed at a building in a Clinic in Zone-B before being cremated later the same day.

Saw Abwe, the section (2) leader of Zone-B where Naw Sein Hla Aye lived spoke to Karen News.

“When I saw her body, I could tell it was not a normal death. Officials are still looking for evidence.”

The Karen Women Organization’s Social Affairs coordinator at Mae La refugee camp, Nan Aye Aye, alleged that the circumstances surrounding Naw Sein Hla Aye’s death are suspicious.

“This death was not normal. It seems obvious that it involves a crime. The Thai doctors who examined the body said that in order to find fingerprints or [DNA] traces on her body, it needed to be done in Bangkok. The officials said that [Naw Sein Hla Aye’s] family member would have to go to Bangkok and that they would have to pay the costs [of the autopsy).”

The KWO’s Nan Aye Aye said the dead woman’s family wanted to know how she had died.

“Family members of the victim said that as refugees, they couldn’t afford the expenses, but just want to know if her death was caused by accident, a snake bite or was rape involved.”

Nan Aye Aye said the family wanted the death of Naw Sein Hla Aye’s investigated if it could be carried out in Mae Sot.

“They wanted to take the case further, but if they needed to go all the way to Bangkok, they would drop the case and that is what happened. The body was cremated on the same day it was found without a thorough investigation been carried out.”

Nan Aye Aye said this is not the first time the death of a refugee had gone uninvestigated.

“This is another lesson for us to learn – similar cases have happened in the past. To make sure it does not happen again, we need to work closely with the relevant agencies and organizations in order to respond quickly.”

Nan Aye Aye said KWO had started discussions with a number of organisations to put in place a mechanism for handling unexplained deaths such as Naw Sein Hla Aye’s.

“As a women organization we are upset about this case. It appears the death was handled very lightly and without respect for the rights and dignity of the victim. We don’t want this to ever happen again.”

Naw Sein Hla Aye was a widow and is survived by a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son.

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