By Chatchawal Sopaphan and Wisit Chuanpipatpong
The Nation/Asia News Network
THAILAND - Immigration Police yesterday rounded up 26 Cambodians - most of them young children between the ages of 2 and 11 - at the Rong Kleu border market in Sa Kaew's Aranyaprathet district.
Police suspect a gang was preparing to take the Cambodians to beg on the streets of Bangkok and Pattaya.
Following a tip-off that beggars who had worked in Bangkok and Pattaya would be sent back to Thailand after spending the traditional Khmer New Year in Cambodia, authorities went to a reported meeting point at the market and arrested a disabled man, three women, nine boys and 13 girls. Police recorded their information and contacted Cambodian authorities.
Sa Kaew immigration police superintendent Pol Colonel Samkhom Tudso said the action was taken to prevent Cambodian kids from becoming victims of a gang, while creating a better atmosphere at the market, where Cambodian beggars sometimes pester tourists, especially foreigners.
He said police would continue to detain Cambodians found begging at the market ahead of the launch of the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
In related news, the Anti-Human Trafficking Division announced the arrest of Ma So, aka Missu Muhammad, 47, in Bangkok's Khlong Ton district for allegedly forcing a 7-year-old Myanmar boy to sell roses at night in parts of Bangkok such as Pattanakarn, Phetchburi, Lat Phrao and Sukhumvit.
The woman allegedly beat the boy and refused to give him food if he didn't sell all the roses given to him. The arrest was made after a complaint from the boy's parents.
The woman reportedly confessed to bringing four or five children to her place each day to sell roses for Bt300-500 (S$12-S$20). The children were given Bt20-Bt30 a day, and their parents sent Bt2,000 a month. She denied assaulting the children.