Thai border police increase security as neighbouring Myanmar military coup protests escalate

Video: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2dctl9svnam5tie/VRP9452.mp4?dl=0

Thailand increased its border patrols amid fears that rising numbers of migrants from neighbouring Myanmar will attempt to cross into the country.

Soldiers, police and other security units were patrolling the sea border with Ranong province in the south of the country this morning (Feb 8).

The region is one of the most popular crossing points for Burmese migrants entering Thailand illegally by sea.

Police Colonel Pakin Guegoon said: ‘Due to the escalation situation in Myanmar right now, migrant workers will be seeking to travel to Thailand to seek better jobs and money in Thailand. Thailand is also giving more opportunities for migrant workers to be officially registered to work so there will be an influx of migrant workers to Thailand.’

Thai officials believe that increased numbers of Burmese workers are fleeing their homeland amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent military coup that toppled leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Businesses in the capital Yangon have suffered, with mass protests and Internet shutdowns affecting trade.

Protests have erupted following the coup in Yangon on Monday (Feb 1) which saw the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and other politicians detained before army chiefs seized power.

In astonishing scenes at the weekend, large crowds wore red as they marched towards the City Hall near Sule Pagoda, which became the focal point where dozens of smaller marches all converged.

Armed riot police protected the building, which is the seat of the city’s administrative body. Hundreds of thousands of Burmese residents including families and children lined the route and applauded as protest marches passed by.

Army chiefs reacted to the mass protests by closing Internet and phone connections across the capital on Saturday (Feb 6) shortly after 11 am local time before it was restored on Sunday (Feb 7) at around 3 pm local time. The unrest came amid anger at the military coup that deposed Aung San Suu Kyi, who had introduced democratic reforms to the country.

Doctors, nurses, students and residents have protested and called for the civilian government to be reinstated.

The military said in a statement that ‘all authority has been given to the top army commander and a one-year state of emergency has been declared’. Reacting to events, The White House said it was ‘alarmed’ by the developments in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.

Spokesman Jen Psaki said: ‘We continue to affirm our strong support for Burma’s democratic institutions.’ America called for Aung San Suu Kyi to be released and threatened to ‘take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed’.

Burma was governed by Britain from 1824 to 1948, during which time it became the second-wealthiest country in Southeast Asia but following independence was ruled by the military until 2011 when democratic reforms began.