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Massive border crackdowns in Kawthoung land 100 in prison

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BY IMNA: IMNA has learned that a major crackdown by Tenasserim Division’s Kawthaung Township border authorities has left over 100 attempted illegal migrant workers from Burma in detainment for over a month.

The workers, who have been restricted to various Kawthaung Township quarters under the charge of various Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) chairmen, claim that they have not been given food or water by their captors; many are running out of the funds that they had originally brought with them to fund an illegal border crossing into Thailand in February, and will soon be unable to purchase food and other basic necessities.

Kawthaung is a major point of entry from Burma into Ranoung, in Southern Thailand. The crossing represents one of the three legal Thai-Burma border entry points; the others are located at Myawaddy, which crosses in Thailand’s Mae Sot, and Thakset, which crosses into Thailand’s Mae Sot.

The Kawthaung entry is, more infamously, a major hub for migrant worker brokers and individuals seeing to enter Thailand without work permits or passports. The detainment of the 100 individuals currently being held in Kawthaung represents a departure from the border-control policy formerly practiced by Burmese authorities; interception of an illegal migrant workers formerly only resulted in these individuals being immediately sent back to their home villages inside Burma.

“They [the Burmese authorities] didn’t send back the people they arrested [to their home states and villages], they didn’t allow them to go anywhere [detainment], they don’t give food and water to the migrants, so now many migrants are having problems getting food,” a Kawthaung resident told IMNA.

A Kawthaung resident reported to IMNA that the detained individuals have been divided between several Kawthaung Township quarters: Payinnoung quarter, Antawar quarter, Shewhintar quarter, Ayeyeiknyein quarter, and Shwepyitar quarter.

The crackdown reportedly is the result of a change in border control policy begun in 2010, led by the commander of the Kawthoung Tactical commander Khin Gyi Latt. The Kawthaung Tactical Command is the authority in charge of the Kauthaung entry point.

“Now under the new tactical commander at Kawthaung, many officers have been fired from their positions, like those people who took bribes from the brokers to allow the migrant workers to enter Thailand,” reported a Kawthaung migrant broker to IMNA.

Reportedly, Burmese authorities have taken to searching the entirety of Kawthaung city for individuals without valid travel documents or local Kawthaung identification.

“The soldiers and police waited at all of the checkpoints in Kawthaung, they checked all of the travelers, some of them [the travelers with valid travel documents] they released. However, they searched the city’s hotels at night time, and they arrested all of the people in the hotel, because none of these people were from Kawthaung, and had no homes in Kawthaung,” the broker informed IMNA.

He further informed IMNA that Burmese authorities had searches conducted arrests at a total of 4 major hotels in Kawthaung: the Kawthaung hotel, the Lucky hotel, the Khit thit San hotel, the Payin ma hotel, and the La Kabar hotel. Detainees were promptly sent to VPDC headquarters in various Kawthaung Township quarters, where small detainment camps have been constructed. Plans for their release or relocation have not yet been released to the public.

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