Friday, April 29, 2011

Burmese workers protest Saha Farm abuse

Around 1,000 Burmese workers at a chicken processing factory in Phetchabun on Wednesday evening launched a protest against alleged physical abuse by Thai security guards.

They briefly held two Thais hostage, before setting them both free.
Bueng Samphan police are detaining and questioning 30 protest leaders while the number of protesters had reduced by half as of press time last night. The Burmese workers insisted they would talk only with Saha Farm CEO Panya Chotitawan, who has not yet responded publicly to their demands.
The protesters, armed with sticks and metal water pipes, were gathered inside the factory compound. A number of shotguns used by security guards and a pistol belonging to a policeman, who was detained and later released, are reportedly in their possession.
Rescue workers took over the security mission from a large number of policemen after the situation eased, with nonprotesters and families allowed to leave the factory to get food and supplies, as of press time last night.
Provincial governor Kongekwilas Rujiwatthanaphong said the dispute was an internal solvable conflict until the workers held people hostage.
Three vehicles and two motorcycles, which are the company's property, have been pushed into a pond.
The protest began Wednesday evening with Burmese workers accusing a security guard of beating their colleagues. They took him hostage.
A factory manager and policeman who were talking to them were also held and later released, after the protestors demanded direct talks with Panya, while still detaining the guard.
A Karen worker said a large number of Burmese workers were beat up regularly by security guards. They were guarded by men armed with rifles all the time during their transport within Thailand, under the supervision of a female employment agent known only as Lek.
A villager living nearby confirmed the abuse and showed sympathy for the workers. "The workers have been treated like they are not human," said the person, who asked not to be named.