Myanmarese protest Thai verdict for migrant workers

People of Myanmar protest in front of Thai embassy in capital for death sentence of two migrant workers

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Protesters and police officers argue with each other as they protest in support of the two Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun in front of the Thai embassy in Yangon December 25, 2015.

Hundreds gathered on Friday in Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon in order to call for the release of two Myanmar migrant workers which a Thai court sentenced to death for the 2014 murders of two young British tourists.

On Thursday, the Samui Provincial Court found Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun guilty for the rape and murder of 23-year-old Hannah Witheridge and for killing 24-year-old David Miller on the Thai holiday island of Koh Tao. This incident raised questions about the country’s treatment of migrant workers.

Around 1,000 people holding placards written "Shameless Thailand government" and chanting "We want justice" in front of the Thai embassy in Yangon.

Prosecutors built much of their case around DNA evidence that police said linked the two migrant workers to the crime.

Defence lawyers said that police had mishandled the DNA evidence and that the two men were tortured during custody.

A Buddhist monk holds a poster as he protests in support of two Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun in front of the Thai embassy in Yangon December 25, 2015 / Photo by Reuters

Myanmar’s Ambassador to Bangkok U Win Maung said the verdict would not disrupt diplomatic ties.

"Everyone who is a human, if they hear that they are getting the death sentence, they will be sad, but this is the legal procedure so we have to adhere to the legal procedure," U Win Maung told reporters in Bangkok after meeting Panadda Diskul, a minister of the Thai cabinet.

"I told Pannada to look after the foundations of relations between countries," he said.

"I very much hope that this case was looked after properly by the Thai government and let me tell you there will no problems affecting diplomatic relations because of this case."

A Myanmar comedic actor Khin Hlaing said the men in Thailand were “victimised.”

"These kids had to go to Thailand because they were poor, and there was no other way to make a living. It is such a shame that our innocent citizens are victimised by another country," he said.

Many activists brought forth that the defendants were used as scapegoats. They add that this case highlights Thailand's ill-treatment of migrant workers. 

Thailand hosts more than 2.5 million migrants from Myanmar. Migrants work in fields such as fishing, construction industry and cleaning in hotels and restaurants.

Thailand has more than 450 prisoners on death row. It has not executed anyone since 2009.

TRTWorld and agencies