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Prisoners from Myanmar currently serving sentences in a prison have sent a letter of complaint to an MP in which they accused the Myanmar embassy in Thailand of not looking after them as the constitution requires.
The letter, sent to Pyithu Hluttaw representative U Thein Nyunt on December 25, says the embassy has understated the number of Myanmar prisoners in Thailand. The letter says more than 10,000 Myanmar citizens are currently behind bars in Thailand, more than three times the embassy’s figure of 3000.
“After reading the complaint letter, it is found that the Myanmar embassy has little contact with prisoners,” U Thein Nyunt, the representative for Thingangyun, told the media on February 14 following a session of parliament.
“The list [of prisoners] in the report is different from the real situation. We will send this letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to find out the real list.
“Myanmar prisoners have to work more than Thai inmates, but they get less food,” U Thein Nyunt said. “For physical fitness, they don’t get the opportunities that Thai prisoners get. Their medical treatment is not the same as the Thai inmates. The worst thing is that they don’t have much contact with the Myanmar embassy.”
According to section 380 of the constitution, the state is obligated to protect the rights of citizens abroad, a responsibility that falls to its embassies, U Thein Nyunt said.
“The Myanmar embassy is diligent in asking for tax but its performance on citizens’ rights is not good and it hasn’t been reporting the real situation of our citizens. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a responsibility to ensure those embassies protect our citizens.”
Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Brigadier General Kyaw Zan Myint defended the government’s record, pointing out that 688 prisoners had been amnestied as of 2013 because of the government’s repeated requests.
He added that the Thai government does not usually grant amnesties to those convicted of murder, or drug and corruption offences.
“We have sought the release of Myanmar prisoners in Thailand as well as continuously given health and social aids to them,” Brig Gen Kyaw Zan Myint said.