Burmese workers find Thai police are not very good sports
When more than 10,000 itinerant Burmese labourers gathered at the sports ground of the Royal Police Cadet Academy in Sam Pran, Nakhon Pathom, yesterday, they were looking forward to enjoying their annual traditional celebration.
More than 600 Burmese immigrant workers were rounded up by police at the Police Cadet Academy in Nakhon Pathom yesterday. More than 10,000 Burmese gathered there for a sports event, prompting police to check on their identities.
But within moments their hopes were dashed when some 200 officers of the Sam Pran District Police and the Immigration Police went to the field to round up the workers, who began to flee in panic. When calm was restored, 674 had been detained.
The workers thought they had been given permission to use the field.
Those who arrived for the event included Burmese and Karen labourers and Burmese students from several provinces in Thailand. They claimed that one of their community leaders had already sought permission to use the field for the event.
An officer at the academy reported to local police yesterday that a huge number of alien labourers were arriving by bus and taking over the football field.
Nirun Sukkrai, 30, a leader of the Burmese group, said he thought the academy had given permission for them to use the field for the traditional ceremony, so he invited 10,000 Burmese people in Thailand to attend and take part in football matches.
The event, subsidised by 70,000 Burmese migrants, had been held 14 times before at various other places in the province such as at college or school sports fields.
"But we were not allowed to use the old places this year, so my friend Thanasit Kheiwsaard asked for permission to use the field of the Royal Police Cadet Academy. We never thought we would be arrested," Nirun said.
Col Padsanong Boonyakiet, deputy commander of the academy, said he mistakenly gave permission because Thanasit told him he wanted to use the field for soccer games involving only 200 factory workers.
"I had no idea it would turn out to be 10,000 foreign labourers coming here," he said.
Sam Pran district police chief, Col Kritsakorn Plithanyawong, said some of those detained were illegal workers who would be sent back to Burma.
Another officer said the police were looking for Thanasit, the leader of the group, who had fled the scene yesterday.