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Thais’ random drug testing irks Burmese

The Burmese border post on the bridge between Tachileik and Mae Sai.

Burmese border officials have asked their Thai counterparts to stop conducting random drug tests on Burmese nationals at the Tachileik–Mae Sai border crossing.

The request was made during a 6 December meeting of the Myanmar-Thailand Township Border Committee in Tachileik, eastern Shan State, where every day thousands of traders, tourists and shoppers cross the border bridge that demarcates Thailand and Burma. The towns are close to the Golden Triangle, an area notorious for drug smuggling.

Tin Win Shwe, the governor of Tachileik and a Border Committee member, told DVB that the Thai border patrol actions poses a threat to economic and social relations in the region.

“Mae Sai police frequently stop Burmese nationals going into Thailand and demand random drug tests,” he said. “They do that to Burmese nationals indiscriminately – to daily commuters, traders, rich people, poor people, tourists.

“Conducting these urine tests on people violates their dignity. We mentioned this at the meeting. Even officials like us don’t feel safe crossing the border. For the sake of the friendship between our two countries, we want to put an end to this random drug testing.”

He emphasised that Thai citizens are not subjected to the same type of treatment when they cross into Burma.

Speaking to DVB, Khin Maung Tint, a local Shan State MP, said, “I do not believe that the [Thai] authorities have the right to conduct drug tests in such a manner. We have discussed this matter several times over the past five or six years, but the Thai side has not catered to our demands as yet.”

He added: “In fact, our government has not helped either. We feel we must take this issue to parliament.”

Thai border police began administering urine tests on Burmese visitors five years ago.

Some 6,000 Burmese nationals enter into Thailand every day via the Tachileik–Mae Sai crossing.