Embassy Action Urged in Killing of Three Burmese Migrants in Thailand

By Nyein Nyein & Khin Oo Tha 26 January 2015

A Thailand-based migrants’ rights NGO has urged the Burmese government to do more to intervene in a recent murder case in which a trio of Burmese laborers in Thailand were found shot to death by an unknown assailant.

The three migrant workers at a rubber plantation in southern Thailand’s Surat Thani province were shot dead on Friday. The victims, from Mon State in Burma, included a 14-year-old boy, Chit Phu, who was killed along with his brother Kyaw Htoo, 29. The third victim, San Min, was 22 years old.

“The victims were murdered at around 9 pm on Friday night in the field of their rubber plantation,” said Htoo Chit, director of the Foundation for Education Development, an NGO assisting migrant workers in Thailand.

“We were told by neighbors that they heard about 14-15 gunshots at that time, and when they went to check, they found their bodies, shot from close range in their heads and necks,” said Htoo Chit, citing information received from local rubber plantation workers.

“Such murder cases are not uncommon,” Htoo Chit said, adding that in similar cases of migrant workers’ victimization, “no justice was brought.”

In this case, he said, the Burmese Embassy had helped to secure the release of the victims’ bodies from the morgue, with his foundation arranging a proper funeral for the deceased at a monastery in Surat Thani. The bodies are due to be buried on Wednesday, pending the arrival of the victims’ family members to Thailand.

Htoo Chit added that letters had been sent to the embassy, the Burmese Ministry of Labor and Parliament, seeking their intervention in the case.

“It should be a government to government intervention,” he said.

“If the government collaborates more with the local NGOs and with Thai authorities, we could see fewer cases in the future.”

The murder of the three migrant workers comes four months after the high-profile killing of two British tourists on the Thai resort island of Koh Tao. Thai authorities have pinned the murders on two Burmese migrant workers, though human rights groups including Htoo Chit’s foundation have claimed the legal case against the men is deeply flawed.

Aung Myo Thant, a Burmese lawyer working on the Surat Thani migrant workers’ case, said they had not yet made official contact with the relevant Thai law enforcement personnel.

“We heard some people have been detained, but it could not be confirmed yet that they are the perpetrators. We are trying to get as much information as we can, then we will share it with the ambassador and will follow his lead.”