Thailand holds 37 Vietnamese fishermen incommunicado

Thanh Nien News

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Thai authorities have detained 37 fishermen from southern Vietnam for a month and not allowed them to contact their families, a Vietnamese official said.
Chau Cong Bang, deputy director of Ca Mau Province’s agriculture department, told news website Zing Thursday that the families of the fishermen and the owners of five boats have not managed to contact them.
“We are going to meet with Thailand Consulate officials in Ho Chi Minh City.”
One boat owner said his vessel sailed out on September 1 but he lost contact with the crew on September 12.
The boat captain called several days later to say Thai authorities had arrested them, and that was the only call he got, he said.
Vietnamese fishermen have not enjoyed smooth sailing in southern waters of late, with Thai police fatally shooting at six Vietnamese boats in Thai waters last month.
Pressed by Vietnam, Thai authorities have promised to investigate the incident in which one Vietnamese fisherman was killed and two others were injured.
Thai maritime police chief Grittapol Yeesakhorn told Reuters earlier that they had been protecting themselves after being surrounded by “hostile Vietnamese vessels,” and had only shot at the front of a boat from 100 meters away.
But Vietnamese fishermen showed many bullet holes on the sides and cabin windows of their boats.
One fisherman on the same boat as the dead man said his vessel was shot at from 20 meters.
No more violence
Foreign ministry spokesperson Le Hai Binh speaks about the Thai maritime police's deadly firing at Vietnamese fishing boats last month at a press briefing in Hanoi October 8. Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency 
Vietnam’s foreign ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said at a press briefing Thursday that Vietnamese government officials have repeatedly condemned the act during recent meetings with Thai counterparts.
They have urged Thailand to quickly clarify the case and punish persons responsible.
“We have demanded that Thailand should apologize and compensate the damage incurred to the fishermen and their families.
“Thailand needs to promise it will not let similar incidents occur.”

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