Political instability and protests in Thailand are delaying the release of Burmese inmates who might otherwise be pardoned, according to Burma’s ambassador in the country.
Four people have been killed in recent unrest in Bangkok as anti-government protestors forced several government offices to close.
It is usual for the Thai king to grant an amnesty to hundreds of prisoners to mark the occasion of his birthday. This year, no royal pardon has yet been announced.
Ambassador Tin Win said his embassy in Bangkok has requested release or reduced prison terms for some 850 inmates in Thai prisons, some of whom are serving lengthy or life sentences.
“Quite often, we receive letters from Burmese inmates – individuals or groups – in Thai prisons, and based on what they said, about 95 percent of them were jailed under narcotic laws and are serving from 20 to 40 years, even up to life in prison,” said the ambassador.
“We are working to have them included in the amnesties granted on the king and the queen’s birthdays. So far, we have made requests to the Thai authorities for 858 Burmese inmates.”
He said that according to official data, some 4,000 Burmese are currently detained in Thai prisons.
Meanwhile, the general secretary of the Tak Province Traders Association, said the political turmoil in Thailand is also causing delays with the flow of imports from Burma and has led to a decline in Burmese visitors entering the country.
There are over two million Burmese migrants working in Thailand, and the two countries share several busy border trade posts.