CHIANG MAI, Thailand — A Thai employer has been accused of murdering two Burmese refugees—a married couple—who were working on his farm in Thailand’s Tak Province.
The couple were owed three months of wages when they were killed on Wednesday night inside a hut in the cornfield where they worked, according to security officials at the Mae La refugee camp, where they lived.
Saw Hla Htay and Naw Paw Mu, ethnic Karen refugees from Burma, were owed more than 10,000 baht (US$300) for their labor on the cornfield in Kar Klo village, Tha Song Yang District.
Their bodies were buried on Thursday, as Thai police officers arrested and detained the suspect, according to Saw Shi Sho, a camp security official.
“The employer attacked them at about 9 pm. But two of the couple’s children were able to escape. They said their father’s face and their mother’s head had been badly hacked,” he said.
“The Thai police have arrested the murderer and detained him in Kar Klo village. The Thai police will pursue the case in accordance with Thai law. We need to let them handle it.”
The Mae La refugee camp houses more than 40,000 refugees and is the biggest Burmese refugee camp in Thailand. Many residents leave the camp to find employment outside in nearby towns, risking extortion or arrest by Thai authorities.
Murders have been reported inside and outside camps, but in many cases Thai authorities have failed to take action against suspected criminals. Family members of victims say they have not received compensation and have been ignored because they lack legal status in Thailand.
In September last year, a Karen refugee woman, Shwe Hla Aye was found dead outside Mae La camp after disappearing for two days. She was found wearing only a bra. Her body was buried without a proper investigation into the cause of her death.