SURAT THANI – Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, the two suspects in the murder of two British tourists in Thailand, have asked fellow Myanmar national Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to help their case, activists said on Thursday.
“They want Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to help them for their justice as she is an international icon and also an influential person in Thailand,” said Sein Htay, director of Bangkok-based Migrant Workers Network.
In a personal letter to Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, both 21 years old, said their families are suffering from lack of income due to their prolonged detention in a prison in Koh Samui, southern Thailand.
“We are poor, so we came to Thailand to work and save money,” the letter read, explaining that both of the accused had been sending money back to Burma to support their parents and grandparents.
The two migrants were arrested on Oct. 2 as the primary suspects in a double-murder on the Thai island of Koh Tao. They were indicted on Dec. 4 following a controversial two-month investigation that critics claim lacked both transparency and evidence.
Both migrant workers from Arakan State in western Burma, they have remained in custody since their arrest.
Thai police said the pair had made a confession, but they later renounced it claiming they had been tortured while in custody. Thai police denied allegations of torture.
Charges include the murder of Miller, rape and murder of Witheridge, theft and illegal entry and stay in Thailand. The pair pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The hasty and opaque investigation sparked criticism across the globe, with some observers calling the migrants scapegoats.
Andy Hall, a British activist assisting the duo throughout their trial, delivered their appeal to Suu Kyi’s secretary but has not yet received a response. The Irrawaddy also made several attempts to contact the NLD, but has not yet received a reply.
Hall, who has been researching migrants’ rights and assisting Burmese migrant workers in Thailand for nearly a decade, is involved in a separate lawsuit in Thailand related to his work on defense of labor rights. Hall told the Irrawaddy he thinks “it will be hard [for the accused] to have a fair trial.”
The pair’s defense team is currently preparing for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 26, two months earlier than originally planned, and must prepare their evidence by Dec. 18.
Here’s the full text from their letter:
To: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
We pay obedience to the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, our parents and our teachers.
The truth is we are not really involved in this case. We want you to help us. So we write this letter to you from our imprisonment. We were not involved in this crime. We do not want to be in jail anymore. We think the killer went to another country already. We think it is injustice that we are in the jail. We want justice and equality.
When you are reading this letter, we do not know really how you will think about us, but if possible we want you to help us, and we are also asking the help from you.
We are poor, so we came to Thailand to work and save money. My friend, Zaw Lin, he does not have father, he has to support his widow mother. I (Wai Phyo) also have to support my grandmother and parents. In the beginning when we arrived in Thailand we suffered many difficulties, we do not want to be suffering like poor people and we tried to work hard and sent money back to our parents regularly, we were happy so much for that.
But now our hopes are broken. We are worried about our parents, who will support them, and we miss our parents every day, when we miss them we are crying. When we go to bed we pray for all people and creatures in the world to have safety, peace, good health and happiness. Please also pray for us to be released from this case.
A May Suu, please have pity on us.