‘Beggars not torture victims’


SIX Chinese nationals with severe deformities caught begging on the streets of Bangkok were not victims of torture, physical abuse or coercion by human traffickers as believed earlier, Thailand said.

Seven Chinese men and women have been arrested for begging for money in Bangkok since Nov 10, after posts on social media suggested that human traffickers may be exploiting Thailand’s visa waiver to bring in victims to beg on the streets.

The individuals caught exhibited facial deformities or had crippled hands or fingers.

Immigration Bureau chief Lieutenant-General Ittipol Ittisarnronnachai told a press conference on Monday that the detainees admitted to entering Thailand voluntarily, after learning begging in the capital could earn them up to 10,000 baht (RM1,331) a day.

Lt-Gen Ittipol said the first person from this group to be arrested was a 41-year-old woman who went by the name Kheng.

She was apprehended on Nov 11 at the BTS Skywalk in front of the Siam Square shopping mall.

Subsequently, a Thai woman called Namee, posing as her interpreter, helped get Kheng out of prison before she was deported on Nov 17.

On Nov 18, a 34-year-old woman identified as Wu was arrested by Phya Thai police on a pedestrian flyover in front of the Platinum shopping mall on Phetchaburi Road.

Wu revealed that she had observed beggars earning substantial amounts in major sightseeing spots in a previous visit to Thailand. So, she decided to try her hand at begging, and sometimes earned up to 10,000 baht a day.

Following her arrest, the same interpreter delivered Wu’s passport and belongings at the Phaya Thai Police Station.

In the third case, a 39-year-old woman, Yuan, was detained by Bang Phlat police on Nov 19 in front of the Central Pinklao shopping mall in Bangkok Noi district.

Yuan said she and her husband Awu made a living by begging on the streets in China and had previously begged in Malaysia. She said they arrived in Thailand earlier in 2023 and earned well from begging.

Lt-Gen Ittipol also said that several of the individuals had previously gone begging in Singapore and Malaysia, insisting that none of them were subjected to torture or abuse.

Police investigators said that the deformities and scars on the detainees’ faces and bodies had been caused by accidents in their youth.

The names of the detainees and the Thai women in the article are pseudonyms. — The Nation/ANN

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