Family grieves Burmese woman killed in Bangkok mall shooting

Khin Khin Ei for RFA Burmese
Family grieves Burmese woman killed in Bangkok mall shooting The man identified by Thai media as the father of the mall shooting suspect prays to Khin Win, the mother of Moe Myint, one of the victims, at Moe Myint’s funeral at Phasuk Maneechak temple in Nonthaburi province, Thailand, Oct. 7, 2023.
Sakchai Lalit/AP

It was the evening of Oct. 3, and Moe Myint had just deposited cash from the day’s sales at the toy store where she worked at the bank in Bangkok’s swanky Siam Paragon shopping center.

As the 31-year-old migrant worker from Myanmar walked back to the store, a 14-year-old boy opened fire with a pistol at the crowded mall, killing her and a Chinese national. Five others – including a Lao national, one Chinese and three Thais – were wounded in the shooting that sent hundreds of shoppers fleeing for safety.

At the weekend, Moe Myint’s mother, Khin Win, traveled from southern Myanmar’s Mon state to Thailand’s Nonthaburi province, north of Bangkok, to cremate her daughter at a Buddhist temple in the country where she had lived for the last decade.

“I’m in a daze and can’t get her death out of my mind – it’s the only thing I can think about,” said Khin Win, who had relied on her daughter to support her as she dealt with chronic kidney disease back home in Thaton township’s Don Won village. “There is nothing that compares to losing a child. You can’t trade your child for anything. I am devastated.”

A photo of Moe Myint is seen at her funeral this past weekend in Thailand’s Nonthaburi province, north of Bangkok, Oct. 7, 2023. [Screenshot from Reuters video]

Moe Myint’s employer, Aksorn Chantarojvanich, described her to Thai media as “a hard worker and a good daughter” whose death was “a great loss.”

Aksorn attended Moe Myint’s funeral and pledged to send her family 10,000 baht (U.S. $270) a month for the rest of her life, to make up for the money she sent home each paycheck.

‘Like a big sister’

Moe Myint’s colleagues noted that she was fluent in Thai, Chinese and English and called her “well-spoken” and “helpful” to those she worked with.

“She used to take care of us like a big sister,” said Ma Ni, who worked with Moe Myint at the toy store in Bangkok. “Our boss trusted her the most and considered her the store’s manager ...  I can’t believe she is gone. I was about to cook her a meal of her favorite food.”

Ma Ni said Moe Myint always did her best to resolve issues at work fairly and patiently, and never blamed anyone for anything.

“When guests sometimes raised their voice at her, she used to handle it well, always with a smile on her face,” she said.

Mourners attend the cremation ceremony of Moe Myint, a 31-year-old Burmese victim of the Thailand mall shooting, at a temple in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Oct. 8, 2023. [Jorge Silva/Reuters]

Moe Myint’s alleged shooter, who police said had suffered a psychological breakdown, has been accused of premeditated murder, illegal possession of a firearm and other charges.

The parents of the suspected gunman published an open letter on Oct. 6 saying that they were cooperating fully with authorities and asking for forgiveness, as well as expressing a “profound sense of regret,” according to a report by BBC News.

Now held in Thailand’s juvenile observation and protection department, the boy’s motives for the shooting remain unclear.

Thailand’s government announced that 200,000 baht (U.S. $5,500) compensation would be paid to those who died in the shooting, as well as assistance to family members for their funerals.

Ballooning migration

Aung Myo Thant, a Thailand-based lawyer who represents Myanmar workers, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that several businessmen and organizations in Thailand were also planning to provide additional funds for the deceased.

“The Thai government said that since [the shooting] happened in their country and the shooter was a 14-year-old Thai youth, they would pay more compensation,” he said. “The Thai employer also plans to compensate the family, out of mercy. There are some organizations in Thailand that will provide financial assistance for the people who have been killed as well.”

A relative of Moe Myint mourns at the Central Institute of Forensic Science in Bangkok, Thailand, Oct. 4, 2023. [Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters]

According to the Migrant Workers Rights Network, the number of people crossing into Thailand from Myanmar increased from 100 per day in 2020 to 2,000 per day in 2022, in part spurred on by the fighting in their country after the Burmese military’s Feb. 1, 2021, coup d’etat. Thai authorities reported that 60,000 migrants were arrested for illegal entry last year, including up to 45,000 that fled Myanmar. 

Since the coup, the Foundation for Education and Development has reported that arrests of Burmese migrants have at least doubled with deportations also on the rise. The Thai NGO recorded 1,400 migrants and 181 arrests in 2022.

A recent report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that between 2,000 to 5,000 people a month returned to Myanmar from Thailand in 2022. Most of them were deported. For those forced into exile, the risks loom large over their lives. 

Radio Free Asia (RFA), a news service affiliated with BenarNews, produced this report.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.