THAILAND: Transparency in trial of the killers of a migrant worker demanded 


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-91-2004
ISSUES: Impunity,

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is gravely concerned that a Thai army officer, his wife and another person accused of brutally murdering a Burmese migrant worker have escaped justice for two years, apparently because of the officer’s influence and position of authority. The victim, Ma Suu (18), sustained fatal injuries in July 2002 after her employers, among them the officer, Suchart Akkavibul, set her on fire, alleging she had stolen their possessions. They then dumped her by the roadside. Even though a summons for the arrest of the perpetrators has recently been issued, and they came before the court, they were released on bail.

It is common for the killers of migrant workers in Thailand to avoid punishment. We therefore call for your urgent intervention to ensure that the three persons charged with the murder will be tried in accordance with international standards. Please send a letter to the Minister of Justice and urge him to ensure that the trial of the alleged perpetrators be properly and transparently conducted to ensure that the guilty parties are punished.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)


Name of Victim: Ma Suu, 18, a Burmese migrant worker
Alleged perpetrators:
1) Suchart Akkavibul, a special group commander in the Royal Thai Airforce
2) Yuwadee Akkavibul, wife of Suchart Akkavibul
3) Kamrun Ponnikorn, assistant to employers
Date of incident: 4-7 July 2002
Place of Incident: Lop Buri Province, Thailand

On July 16, 2002, Ma Suu, a Burmese migrant worker, died in hospital in Nakhon Sawan province, Thailand, after being allegedly beaten and set on fire by her employers, Suchart and Yuwadee Akkavibul.

Ma Suu had been in Thailand for a year. She had paid 7,000 Thai baht (US$175) to a trafficker to go to work in Mae Sot. After seven months there, she paid another 7,000 Thai baht to another trafficker, who found her work as a house maid in the furniture shop in Lop Buri province owned by the accused, where she received 1,500 Thai baht a month.

After working there for three months, she was accused of stealing mobile phones, gold necklaces and money. Her employer beat her to force her to confess. When she refused, the owner, his wife and another man beat her again until she was bruised all over and passed out. Then she was tied with a rope and brought outside the house. The employers poured gasoline onto her body and set her on fire when she continued to insist her innocence. They later threw water onto her body to stop the fire. She was left in a room without treatment or food for three days.

When Ma Suu regained consciousness, they beat her again. Thinking she was dead, they put her in a car and dropped her in bushes beside a road. At about 3am on July 7, 2002, a man found her on the road, and sent her to a hospital in town. However, she died nine days later, after implicating the accused three persons.

For over two years none of the alleged perpetrators were charged. On June 25, 2004, the provincial police station in the capital of Uthaithanee province finally issued a summons for the arrest of the three. Suchart Akkavibul and his wife appeared in court, and were given bail on the grounds that he is a state officer, although the prosector opposed bail. It is understood by the AHRC that the third accused has agreed to appear as a witness in the case against the other two, and may escape prosecution. On Monday, July 26 the case will go to court. Further details are expected to be forthcoming.


Law enforcement officials in Thailand have for years failed to investigate and prosecute in cases of rape and murder perpetrated against migrant workers. The AHRC has previously reported on a case in January 2002 in which at least 17 Burmese migrants were killed and dumped in a stream ( In 2003, 6 Burmese men were openly led away and extrajudicially killed by local authorities ( Also in 2003, the police were pressured to act in a rape and murder case of a migrant factory worker only after mass protests by other workers led to the arrest of the perpetrator ( Most abuses committed against migrant workers in Thailand are investigated only when civil groups and concerned lawyers have become involved in the case. However, within Thailand, many of these persons and organisations are restricted in their ability to act on cases due to threats by the concerned authorities. Therefore, international support is strongly needed.

Please send a letter, fax, or e-mail to the Minister of Justice urging him to ensure that the accused in this case be prosecuted in accordance with international standards and not escape justice because of influence due to holding a position of authority.

Sample letter:

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear Sir,

Re: Please ensure that the alleged murderers of Ms Ma Suu are punished 

I am writing to request that you ensure that the alleged murderers of Ms Ma Suu, a Burmese migrant worker at a furniture shop in Lop Buri on July 16, 2002, be tried and punished in accordance with international standards. 

Ma Suu died because of dreadful injuries resulting from a severe assault by her employers, Suchart Akkavibul, a special group commander in the Royal Thai Armed Forces, his wife, Yuwadee Akkavibul, and an assistant, Kamrun Ponnikorn, after they accused her of stealing her mobile phones, gold necklaces and money. Her employer beat her to force her to confess. When she refused the charges and insisted on her innocence, she was tied up and burnt with gasoline, resulting in fatal injuries. 

In fact, Ma Suu exemplifies how migrant workers in Thailand are poorly treated and violently attacked by employers. To protect and promote their human rights, transparent investigation and judicial procedures are needed. Success in bringing the perpetrators of such crimes to justice will prevent future brutal acts against migrant workers, while failure to deliver justice will create more tragedy and suffering, and leave employers feeling free to abuse migrant workers without fear of consequences. 

Therefore, I strongly urge you to closely follow this case to ensure that the accused are tried and punished in accordance with international standards. I further request you to provide protection to migrant workers in Thailand and provide them full access to justice. 

Sincerely yours, 


Send your letter to:

Mr. Pongthep Thepkanjana
Minister of Justice
Office of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building
22nd Floor Jangwatana Road
Parkket Nonthaburi 11120
Tel: +66 2 502 6775
Fax: +66 2 502 6734

Send copies to:

1. Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra
Prime Minister
Government House
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District,
Bangkok 10300
Fax: +66 2 282 8631 or 66 2 629 8213

2. Prof. Saneh Chamarik
The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathum Wan District
Bangkok 10300
Fax: +66 2 219 2940

3. Dr. Kraisak Choonhavan
Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs 
10 Soi Phahonyothin 3 
Phayathai, Bangkok 10400 
Tel: +66 2 617 2002 
Fax: +66 2 617 2003 

4. Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
Palais Wilson, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9022

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-91-2004
Countries : Thailand,
Issues : Impunity,