Video shows 2013 fire at refugee camp in Thailand

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

A video has been viewed thousands of times in multiple Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube posts that claim it shows a massive fire in a village in central Myanmar. The posts surfaced online after reports circulated that the village was burned down by the Myanmar military on June 15, 2021. The claim is false: this video in fact shows the blaze that destroyed a refugee camp in Thailand in 2013.

This video was shared here on Facebook on June 16, 2021. It has been viewed more than 3,000 times.

The post’s Burmese-language caption translates to English in part: “The video shows the fire in Kinma village, Pauk Township. There is a lot more violence these days. In the past, there were arrests and killings in the cities during protests. Now, they are going to the villages which are revolting against them. They are doing whatever they want. Now they are even burning the whole village”.

Screenshot taken on June 18, 2021 of the misleading post

Kinma, a small village located in Pauk township in central Myanmar, was razed almost entirely to the ground in mid-June.

Villagers told AFP junta forces were to blame for its near-destruction, while the military said “terrorists” and windy weather were responsible. AFP reported on the story here.

The military denied the reports and said in a press release published by state-owned media, Global New Light of Myanmar, that the fire was started by members of a civilian-led rebel group.

The same video has been shared alongside a similar claim on Facebook here, here, here and here; and on Twitter here and on YouTube here.

The claim is false.

Keywords search on Google found the original video posted on YouTube here on March 28, 2013.

It was uploaded by the Border Consortium, a non-profit organisation working with refugees.

According to the description, the video shows a fire in Mae Surin refugee camp in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province.

The video's description reads: “37 refugees died when a fire broke out around 3.15 pm on Friday, March 22, 2013, in Ban Mae Surin (Site 2) camp, Khun Yuam District, Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand. Over 400 households have been destroyed leaving around 2,300 people homeless”.

The Mae Surin refugee camp fire killed more than 30 people and left thousands of inhabitants homeless, according to reports by Thai media outlet Chiang Rai Times here and AFP here.

According to UN refugee agency, the majority of refugees at the camp were from the Karen and Karenni ethnic groups originating in Myanmar. 

Below are three screenshot comparisons of the misleading post (L) and the original video (R):

screenshot comparisons of the misleading post (L) to the original video (R)