Thai cops, soldiers raid Karen media office

Thai police and soldiers conducted a surprise raid on the Karen Information Centre (KIC) based in the Thai border town of Mae Sot on 4 February 2010.

About 20 Mae Sot-based policemen and soldiers, armed with search warrants, entered the news agency office at 6 a.m., conducted a search ostensibly for illegal drugs and weapons, and took photographs of the premises.

"There was no one in our office at the time. They entered and ransacked it," KIC editor Nan Phau Ge told Mizzima.

Before raiding and searching the news agency office, Thai security men entered and searched the residence of Karen National Union (KNU) party leader David Tharkapaw.

A family member present at the time said, "The police searched both upstairs and downstairs. They found nothing in our house and took photographs. They  carried service revolvers. The KIC office was closed when they entered so they forced open an upstairs window through which three policemen entered the building, took out KIC newspapers and dropped them outside".

This is the first ever incident of the KIC office being searched and raided on suspicion of keeping illegal drugs and arms, editor Nan Phau Ge said. KIC disseminates news about the Karen region and its people, a Burmese ethnic group.

She also said that personnel in a Thai army truck took photographs of the KIC office's façade on 2 February at about 9 a.m. They searched the building with a search warrant today.

"They came looking for arms and illegal drugs. It was just an excuse," a KNU leader said. This was the third time that KNU leader Pado David Tharkapaw's house has been raided and searched.