Thailand plans to evacuate 162 of its nationals from Myanmar via China


The Thais were rescued from human traffickers in Shan state but have been stuck there amid fighting between warring sides.

Thailand plans to evacuate 162 of its nationals from Myanmar via China

Thai Deputy National Police Chief Surachate Hakparn speaks to reporters before entering the Criminal Court in Bangkok, Sept. 26, 2023.

Thailand’s deputy police chief flew to Myanmar on Monday to coordinate the repatriation of 162 Thai nationals who are stuck amid fighting between junta troops and ethnic minority armies near the Chinese border after being rescued from human traffickers.

Some of the Thais trapped in the Shan state were victims of human trafficking or had been lured to work in scam call centers that have proliferated in northern Myanmar in recent years, police Gen. Surachate Hakparn said in a video update from Yangon. 

Along with working at the call centers, many other Thais were forced into prostitution, he said.

“The 162 are safe. They are under the care of the military, the Border Guard Force. All of the Thais are safe, but fighting has raged on,” Surachate said.

He said they had been stranded in Laukkaing, a district inside the Kokang Self-Administered Zone in Shan state near the frontier with China, before the Burmese military rescued them and placed them at a camp. 

In addition, another 60 Thais appear to be trapped in nearby buildings, Surachate said without releasing specific details.

“[We], Chinese authorities and Myanmar are coordinating [repatriation]. Not only Thais were being held, but many other nationalities, including more than 600 Chinese,” he said.

“We have a solution on how to move them out, but we have to keep it confidential for safety reasons. There is fighting going on along the routes. We are awaiting the readiness to travel to Laukkaing to verify the identities.”

While the repatriation routes are confidential, Thai officials will set up a center in Kunming, a city in China’s Yunnan province, to process the evacuees via the National Referral Mechanism. Government agencies use this as a tool to separate trafficking victims from traffickers and provide victims with rehabilitation.

Surachate said any trafficker found among the 162 would be prosecuted.

Alliance attacks

In late October, the Northern Alliance or “Three Brotherhood Alliance” made up of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Arakan Army simultaneously struck Myanmar junta positions in the strategic Shan cities of Kunlong, Hseni, Chin Shwe Haw, Laukkaing, Namhkan, Kutkai, and Lashio – the state’s largest municipality.

At that time, Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, the junta’s deputy information minister, confirmed to local media that some military bases and security outposts came under assault, including Laukkaing, according to Radio Free Asia, a news service affiliated with BenarNews.

The Thai ambassador to Myanmar, meanwhile, praised the Burmese authorities for taking care of the rescued nationals in Laukkaing.

“We coordinated with them to ensure adequate food, water, health care and livelihood. We thank NGOs for coordinating the rescue efforts,” Ambassador Mongkol Visitstump said.

Since the Tatmadaw – Myanmar’s military – overthrew the civilian government in a coup on Feb. 1, 2021, its supreme commander, Gen. Min Aug Hlaing, has faced rebellion from ethnic minorities forces across the country as he leads the country.

Nearly 3,000 people have been killed, 1.5 million have been internally displaced, more than 13,000 are detained in inhumane conditions, and four people are known to have been executed while at least 100 have been sentenced to death, Amnesty International said. In addition, 7.8 million children are not attending school.

BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated online news organization.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *