November 20, 2023
BANGKOK – A Foreign Ministry statement said Myanmar officials had sent the group across the border with consent from the Chinese authorities.
The statement also said that the ministry will send two chartered Air Asia and Lion Air flights to repatriate them from the Chinese city of Kunming. The two flights are scheduled to land at Don Mueang Airport on Sunday night.
Once the flights land, immigration police will screen victims from those who allegedly collaborated with the call-centre gangs, the ministry added.
The authorities say that the operation to repatriate Thais from Laukkaing in Shan State was complicated due to legalities.
Normally the township is closed to outsiders, except those who receive permission from Myanmar authorities, hence it is believed the Thais entered the area illegally.
Laukkaing is also believed to be the hub for many call-centre gangs.
The ministry said the Myanmar government has accepted Thailand’s plea and decided not to prosecute the 266 for legal entry.Meanwhile, the Thai embassy in Yangon won cooperation from the Myanmar government and the Emmanuel Foundation to take care of the group while they were waiting to be moved to China.
Separately, the Thai missions in Beijing and Kunming have been working with Chinese authorities to repatriate the Thais.
The first group of 41 Thais were repatriated from Laukkaing through land on Saturday. They crossed the border from Tachilek into Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district. They were also subjected to interrogation to differentiate between human trafficking victims and collaborators.