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Hundreds of Burmese migrants arrested in Thai raids

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By NANG MYA NADI

Hundreds of Burmese migrants have been arrested in Thailand in large-scale raids by authorities.

Police have been carrying out the arrests after performing frequent residential checks in an area where Burmese migrants are known to reside, in the town of Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok. They have also been targeting workers at the local market. Children are among those who have been detained.

Local shopkeeper Kyaw Kyaw told DVB that around 250 migrants have been arrested.

“Thai police are checking almost everyday. Those who have work permits and passports without matching names have also been arrested,” he said. “If a father and mother have work permits and the child has a card for temporary stay, they too have been detained. I can’t understand why. Workers are not under obligation to report anywhere.”

Some of the arrestees have been released after paying police 6,000-7,000 Thai baht (US$200- $233) per person, but some are still in detention, Kyaw Kyaw said.

“The arrests started before Songkran [Thai New Year], and only stopped for three days during Songkran. Some people who were sat in front of their houses were questioned, checked and arrested,” said Kyaw Kyaw.

The majority of Burmese migrants in Pathum Thani are from Karen State, Mon State and Rangoon Division, and work as shop assistants, construction site workers and maids.

Workers said they hope that the Burmese embassy will negotiate with Thai authorities to allow them to work safely.

Additionally, three buses carrying a total of 152 migrants were stopped en route from Thailand’s Mae Sot, on the Thai-Burmese border, to Bangkok. Upon being stopped at a checkpoint, the buses, which were marked as student buses, were found to be carrying 88 men, 59 women and five children who did not have appropriate documentation, according to Thailand’s TNN television.