Thais crack down on illegal Burmese migrants

Thais crack down on illegal Burmese migrants

Thai authorities apprehended and deported 163 undocumented Burmese migrants in a raid in Mae Sot on Tuesday. Conducted by a joint task force of Thai army, government authorities, immigration officials and police, the round-up took place at Ban Sung Kwe, an area densely populated by Burmese migrants in the western Thai town.

The migrants – 49 men, 59 women and 55 children – were loaded into trucks and transported across the border to Myawaddy in Karen State.

Two days later, on 5 June, another raid, this time in the southern Thai town of Ranong, resulted in the capture of 136 Burmese migrants who had recently been smuggled into Thailand on foot, according to Ranong provincial governor Cherdsak Jampathes said at a press conference that same day.

A joint force of Thai military and police had caught them in a rubber plantation after a tip-off, he said.

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The detainees were listed as 103 men, 23 women and 10 children. The migrants reportedly said they entered Thailand from Kawthaung on the Burmese side of the border where smugglers or traffickers had brought them after a three-hour trek through the jungle in the middle of the night.

After questioning, several illegal migrants reportedly told Thai authorities that they had planned to go to Mahachai near Bangkok, where thousands of Burmese get jobs on fishing boats or work in fishery processing factories.

Others had paid to be transported to Songkhla in southern Thailand, a town with many rubber plantations also known for reemploying Burmese migrants. Others were headed for Malaysia, the governor said.

The detainees told Thai authorities they had paid 6,000 baht for the attempted trip to Mahachai; 10,000 baht for Songkhla; and 20,000 baht to get to Malaysia.

All brokers and migrants will be charged with immigration offences, Thai newspaper Khaosod quoted officials saying.

Ranong Governor Cherdsak alluded loosely to the 22 May military coup in Thailand, saying it was important for the Thai armed forces to work closely with other offices during this time of unrest in the country.

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