Myanmar workers revolt in Songkhla after arrests

Myanmar workers revolt in Songkhla after arrests

More than a thousand Myanmar workers staged a protest at a canned seafood factory in Songkhla province on Tuesday night after police arrested 20 of their compatriots as they were travelling back to their country to look after relatives.

The raucous protest continued until 1am yesterday. Protesters jeered at and booed the factory owner and the 100 police officers sent to diffuse the situation, Pol Col Saksit Meesang, superintendent of Ko Hong police station, said yesterday.

"It was caused by a misunderstanding and we needed to calm them down and negotiate with them until they understood the situation," Pol Col Saksit said.

The workers became angry when they were told local police had arrested 20 colleagues who just resigned from the factory to return home to take care of relatives.

Protesters told police the arrested workers had been at the factory for years but had to quit to go back to their country because their homes and relatives were affected by the military crackdown in Myanmar, Pol Col Saksit said.

Police had arrested the 20 Myanmar nationals on Tuesday evening as they were waiting at a meeting point in tambon Toong Loong in Hat Yai district for a hired agent to pick them up and assist them in crossing the border. Each paid 5,700 baht to a middleman to arrange their trip home.

The "misunderstanding" happened when local villagers told police to arrest them. Learning that their compatriots were arrested, the workers became angry as they believed the Thai employer had forced them to quit.

After four hours of talks, the protesters dispersed after being told police could not let the workers return home because of Covid-19 related lockdowns.

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