Burmese Women Shot in the South, Thailand

irrawaddy news, 19th Aug 2009

A Burmese woman worker was killed and three women wounded in a shooting by unidentified assailants in Pattani Province in southern Thailand on Tuesday, according to local sources.
Moe Kyaw Thu, a 28-year-old Burmese worker in Pattani said the four women were shot at a construction site at noon.

The woman who died was shot in the heart. The three wounded were taken to Pattani Hospital, said the source. The four victims were from Tavoy in Tenasserim Division in southern Burma.

 “We are very afraid of working here,” Tun Shwe, a Burmese worker, said. “We have to be careful wherever we go because bombings are frequent.

“For the moment I feel safe enough because I am working at the construction site of the Thai military compound,” he said.

Htoo Chit, an executive director of Grassroots Human Rights Education and Development Committee (Burma) based in Phang Nga Province of southern Thailand, said migrants can easily apply for permits to work in Pattani Province, because there is a strong demand for migrant workers and the authorities don’t ask too many questions.

According to local sources, an estimated 30,000 Burmese migrants work in Pattani. Many work on construction sites and rubber plantations. A construction site worker can earn about 200 baht a day.

“It is difficult to find jobs in other places, so migrants are going to Pattani to work even though they know it is risky,” said Htoo Chit.

An ethnic Mon who works at a rubber plantation in Pattani said: “We can save a lot of money if we work here because plantation owners pay us more than in other places.

“We have to be wary of everyone,” he said. “Sometimes the police come and ask for money, and we have to pay them. Sometime road gangs come and we have to pay them too. Then there are the ordinary thieves who come to steal from us as well.”

Thai security officials said that at least three Burmese migrant workers were killed at construction sites in Thailand’s south before the latest shooting.

One Burmese worker was shot and killed on the road by suspected Islamist militants in Pattani in July. Pattani police believe the incident was related to the southern violence.

More than 3,700 people have been killed in the southern provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani since unrest erupted in January 2004.

Rebels have targeted both Buddhists and Muslims, with victims ranging from security forces to civilians such as teachers and plantation workers.

The region was an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate until predominantly Buddhist Thailand annexed it in 1902, provoking decades of tension.


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