The Australian Greens have called on the Federal Government to do everything it can to help the 20,000 Burmese refugees being forced back into Burma by the Thai Government.
"Australia is considering boosting the aid it sends to the Thai-Burma border where thousands of people are seeking refuge. We should bring forward this aid funding now to partner organisations in the area, rather than waiting for the emergency to get any worse," said Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.
"Early on Tuesday there were reports of 10,000 people fleeing across the border; by that evening it was 20,000. Yesterday, Thai authorities were sending them back," he said.
"While the Thai Government is claiming Burma is now safe, this area hasn't been safe in a long time. Ethnic minorities, especially the Karen people, face ongoing persecution from the military dictators of Burma, it will only be worse under the state of emergency the regime has declared," he said. "The Australian Government should take a leading role in international efforts to assist people fleeing the Burmese dictatorship," said Senator Ludlam. "We call on the Thai government to allow them to take refuge from the junta and for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to re-settle those who wish to flee Burma permanently."
The West Australian Senator reiterated his call for the Australian Government to support "a full trade embargo on the country and to prevent Australian investors from profiting from their partnerships with the military regime".
"Australian companies that trade with the Burmese regime should face severe penalties for helping to prop up a dictatorship," said Senator Ludlam. "Strongly worded statements are not enough, we need strong action."