Parents of Burmese Men Accused of Koh Tao Murders Arrive in Thailand

By Nyein Nyein 22 October 2014

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — A British labor rights activist in Thailand made a second prison visit to two Burmese men accused of murder in southern Thailand on Wednesday, as the migrants’ parents were briefed by Thai lawyers on the case in Bangkok.

On Tuesday, the accused were also visited by members of the Lawyers Council of Thailand, and the case lawyers said the men had retracted confessions made to police earlier this month, according to The Associated Press.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21-year-old Burmese migrants, were detained by police on Oct. 2 for the alleged murder of two British tourists, whose bodies were found the morning of Sept. 15 on Koh Tao island in southern Thailand.

Andy Hall, a British labor rights activist and international affairs advisor to the Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN), said the accused were happy to learn of their parents’ arrival in Koh Samui, where they are being held.

Hall said he was asked by the men to deliver a message to their parents “to be happy and not to worry about them as they didn’t commit the accused crime.”

The MWRN visited the prison on Wednesday for a second time this week, to provide the accused with requested accessories and deposit money into their prison accounts.

Meanwhile, the parents of the two migrants met the Lawyers Council of Thailand and Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission at the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok upon their arrival to Thailand on Wednesday, according to Kyaw Thaung, director of the Myanmar Association in Thailand. The parents will depart the Thai capital to visit their sons in Koh Samui on Thursday.

Thailand’s human rights commission vowed this week to launch an inquiry into allegations of police torture of the accused, who exhibited “pains consistent with internal injuries,” the Bangkok Post reported on Monday.

The MWRN advisor Hall also met the prison warden and asked him to reconsider the “unfair practice” of shackling the men—who have yet to be tried—24 hours a day.

“[The prison warden] said he would consider the complaint,” Hall told The Irrawaddy.

The British activist said the accused have been in shackles without reprieve and were having difficulty using the toilet and showering, as well as suffering pain in their ankles.

“So we brought socks and basic supplies they asked for, such as toothpaste, towel, soap and shampoo, during our visit,” added Hall.