Thai Deputy PM to talk with Myanmar seeking release of Thai detainees


BANGKOK, July 12 – Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa is expected to hold talks on Thai detainees with a high-ranking Myanmar official during his visit there  on Thursday.

He will fly to Yangon this evening to attend the SEA Games Federation Council meeting and is expected to hold talks with the Myanmar official in a sideline meeting.

Gen Yuthasak, assigned by the prime minister to welcome Myanmar President Thein Sein on his planned visit to Thailand on July 22, said he expected that progress in the case will certainly be seen this week.

The investigation is underway, the deputy premier said, adding that the exact number of Thai detainees expected to be targeted for legal action has not yet been specified by the Myanmar authorities.

Those thought to have committed no offence are likely to be freed first while those who possessed illegal drugs or weapons will remain in custody.

The Thai nationals were reportedly taken into custody by Myanmar troops on July 4 at Koh Song, opposite Ranong’s Kra Buri district. They allegedly cut trees and clearing forest area to plant para rubber trees in Myanmar territory.

Initial investigation on the land encroachment found that Thai workers were lured by brokers to buy plots of land at a cheap price not realising that the land was actually Myanmar territory.

Meanwhile, Supreme Commander Tanasak Patimapakorn said after his visit to Myanmar that negotiations are being carried out at local and regional levels through the Thai-Myanmar Township Border Committee (TBC) and the Thai- Myanmar Regional Border Committee (RBC) as well as diplomatic channels.

There should be no problem as the two countries have good relations, he said.

All detainees are safe and Myanmar officials have not filed any charges against them pending further investigation.

Those without wrongdoing are expected to be sent home before the planned visit of the Myanmar president. The number of detainees has not yet been confirmed as they were detained in several areas, the supreme commander said.