Tue 30 Jun 2009
Filed under: News,On The Border
Some 4,000 Burmese migrants were arrested by the Thai authorities in Thailand in June, according to a Thai Web site, www.manager.co.th.
The Thai news and entertainment Web site said that the Burmese migrants were arrested in different regions by the Thai authorities, but the majority were arrested in Phop Phra District in Tak Province.
It is believed that many of those arrested were sent back to Burma, while others are being detained or were released.
A Thai police officer in Phop Phra told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that many Burmese are coming to Thailand in the hope they can get new work permits, because a fresh registration of migrants in Thailand begins in early July.
The Thai government announced in June that the country needed some two million foreign workers for the multitude of jobs available, including those jobs known as the “3 Ds”-dirty, dangerous or degrading-which most Thai workers refuse.
There are up to five million Burmese migrants living and working in Thailand, says the Migrant Assistance Program (MAP) in Chiang Mai. However, only 500,000 registered at the Thai Ministry of Labor last year.
The Thai government is currently offering new one-year work permits to those who registered last year.
However, Jackie Pollock, a founding member of MAP, said that some migrants cannot afford to pay the 3,800 baht (US $112) fee for registration because they don’t have jobs due to the economic crisis in Thailand.
Moe Swe, the head of the Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association in Mae Sot in Tak Province, said that many of the Burmese migrants in Mae Sot couldn’t afford to pay the registration fees due to poor wages.
Burmese workers generally get paid about 1,500 baht ($44) per month working at a factory in Mae Sot, he said.
Thailand has recently tightened its border security to prevent an influx of Burmese migrants into the county. Meanwhile, in Chiang Mai, police have set up nighttime roadblocks as part of an ongoing campaign to crack down on Burmese migrants.
Meanwhile, the Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia and MAP Foundation in Thailand have called on the Malaysian and Thai governments to protect the rights of Burmese migrants and ensure that migrants can exercise their labor, social, cultural, economic and political rights.
In a joint statement released last week, the groups called for a halt to unjust, discriminatory and unconstitutional policies on migrants.
A report released by the US State Department in June claimed that Thailand had not complied with international labor laws and that Thai authorities frequently abused migrants’ rights.