Govt Aiding Effort to Seek Pardons for 2 Myanmar Workers on Death Row in Thailand: Minister

By The Irrawaddy 2 September 2019

NAYPYITAW—The Myanmar government will continue to support the process of seeking a royal pardon for two Myanmar migrant workers whose death sentences were upheld by a Thai court last week, Myanmar’s Minister of Labor, Immigration and Population said on Monday.

Last Thursday, Thailand’s Supreme Court upheld the convictions and death sentences of Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun for the 2014 murders of two British nationals on the island of Koh Tao. The Koh Samui Court convicted Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin—both in their early 20s at the time—of the September 2014 murders of British tourists Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, on Koh Tao island and sentenced them to death in December 2015. The pair remain detained at Bang Kwang Prison near Bangkok.

U Thein Swe, the minister of labor, immigration and population, told reporters in Naypyitaw on Sept. 2 that, “As it concerns [Thai] law, we will continue cooperating with the concerned authorities [to try and secure the pardon].”

He said, “A royal pardon from the King is the only option left, and civil society groups in Thailand are also working on it. The government will continue supporting in any way it can. Since the case began, state leaders have been instructed [to support the two workers]. The ministry is also helping the [Myanmar] labor attache and the ambassador in Thailand, as well as CSOs there. Our lawmakers and [parliamentary] speakers have also sent letters to Thailand. The process is ongoing and we will continue our support.”

The government response comes amid growing demands for the pair’s release, both at home and abroad.

In Thailand, labor rights groups have urged the Myanmar government to take the initiative in seeking a royal pardon from the Thai king.

On Monday, supporters of the two workers, including monks, gathered in front of Yangon’s City Hall, requesting “compassion” from Thai King Maha Vijiralongkorn to save the two migrants. They also sent a letter to the Thai Embassy in Yangon.

The pair have been detained for more than four years since their arrest in October 2014. Both have consistently denied the charges and claimed Thai police coerced their confessions.

Moe Moe contributed to this report.