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More than 100 Thai security police raided a Burmese migrant neighbourhood in Chiang Mai on Wednesday morning to detain undocumented migrant workers.
Located behind the Buddhist temple Wat Pa Pao in northern Chiang Mai, the predominantly Burmese neighbourhood has a dense population of migrant workers from Shan State. Police entered the neighbourhood at 6 am and went from door-to-door to look for undocumented migrant workers.
According to Sai Mong, an ethnic Shan man who owns a shop there, the security forces announced via loudspeakers before conducting the raid that residents should come out of their homes with their identification cards ready.
The search was completed at around 11 am, and the security forces detained a truck full of migrant workers. Sai Mong said the exact number of people detained was unclear.
Since the coup last week, Thai government TV channels announced that an “environmental cleansing” operation will be carried out in order to build a “pleasant” society. Supervised by Chiang Mai provincial deputy governor Chana Faengpiboon, this operation involves both the military and police forces, as well as 500 civilians.
Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has been home for many years to thousands of Burmese migrants, the majority of whom are ethnic Shan, or Tai Yai, from Burma’s eastern Shan State across the border. Shans speak a language similar to the northern Thais; therefore they have been able to integrate relatively seamlessly into the society. While many have lived in Thailand for generations, more recent migrants are frequently found working for lower-than-minimum wages in the construction and agriculture sectors around the city.