CHIANG RAI – In Tachilek, just north of the Mae Sai border post in Chiang Rai, an estimated 2,000 people demonstrated at Shan Yoma stadium in a show of solidarity for the two Myanmar migrant workers.
Protests intensified on Saturday against the conviction of two countrymen they believe were wrongly convicted of the Koh Tao murders.
The Myanmar’s Irrawaddy website reported that the handling of the high-profile case by Thai police has drawn significant controversy, with the accused pair alleging they were tortured into a confession and the defense team contending key evidence was mishandled.
An estimated 2,000 people who gathered at Shan Yoma stadium in a show of solidarity for Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun.
The protesters urged the release of the pair, who they believe were innocent. The defence team for the two young laborers is preparing to file an appeal.
Demonstrators staged a peaceful march along Highway RB3 to the Thailand-Myanmar Friendship bridge to make their point. They carried politely worded posters urging the release of the two men and a retrial. They stopped on the bank of the Sai River and stayed there for 15 minutes.
The leaders of the protest group subsequently submitted a letter to Thai officials. Chutidej Meechan, the Mae Sai district chief, and Pol Col Siddhi Sirikangwankul, members of the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBC), accepted the letter on behalf of Thailand to be forward to the government.
The protesters subsequently dispersed without incident and the Thai authorities reopened the border.
Meanwhile, protesters, including Buddhist monks, congregated outside the Thai Embassy in Rangoon from around 10.30am, with numbers swelling over the next few hours.
Police erected barbed wire barricades on Thursday ahead of a smaller demonstration and on Friday, the road in front of the embassy was blocked where protesters gathered with placards and chants demanding justice.
The two accused migrants are both Arakanese and many ethnic Arakanese joined the protest on Friday.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were moved at 4am Saturday from the Koh Samui prison, where they have been in custody for the past 14 months, to the higher-security Nakhon Si Thammarat prison on the mainland.
Authorities said the transfer was standard procedure since the pair had been convicted and received the maximum penalty and were no longer detainees.