Monday, 13 January 2014

Burmese migrants stabbed in "gang battle"

The Phuket Wan reports on 8 Jan 2014: PHUKET:

Two Burmese were killed near a Red Cross concert last night on Phuket after a Thai superstar became embroiled in Thailand's national election protest and the concert was banned from going ahead. The killings of the two Burmese in a gang battle is likely to see a night curfew imposed immediately at the scores of workers' camps across the popular international holiday island.
Development is so intense on Phuket that there are at least 100,000 laborers - both legal and illegal. A crackdown can be anticipated immediately to truck many back to Burma. The bodies of Burmese Min, 23, and Min Min, 26, were found 20 metres apart, both stabbed with sharpened steel construction rods - the laborers' weapon of preference. Both corpses were found at a junction near the Phuket Immigration Headquarters in Phuket City, with two other Burmese - Moo, 24, and Bo, 22 - taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital, also in Phuket City, where they were admitted with stab wounds. The intersection is metres from the parkland grounds where the last in a series of Red Cross fairs and concerts was due to take place. Over the past few years a discriminatory curfew on Burmese workers has been relaxed. The workers were once obliged to be in their camps each night before 8pm and prohibited from using mobile telephones or riding motorcycles. Last night's gang battle took place at 10.30pm near the final Red Cross fair and concert in the Saphan Hin public park in Phuket City. It came coincidentally after anti-government protesters blocked the entrance to condemn star performer Sek Loso. The famous rock singer, who has a huge Phuket following, posted on social media that he was ''going to the election'' on February 2. Anti-government protesters led by Suthep Thaugsuban have been campaigning in Bangkok to stop the election and force reforms through a ''people's council.'' The protesters have wide support across Thailand's south and particularly on Phuket. Although Sek Loso protested that celebrities were traditionally engaged to promote elections in Thailand, officials were forced to cancel the concert because demonstrators with placards massed at the entrance to the fairgrounds. The cancellation was followed about an hour later by the Burmese gang battle and the two killings. The night's events will spark what will inevitably be a crackdown on the holiday island where police numbers are too small for a population swollen by tourism and the huge Burmese workforce. An extra 97 police were added in 2013 but that still leaves about 1200 police to cope with a population reckoned to exceed one million at this time of the year. As many as 100,000 to 150,000 of those are Burmese laborers, who live in rough corrugated shanties near the building sites of resorts and condo developments all across Phuket.

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