Beyond borders: Burmese migrants in Thailand

Beyond borders: Burmese migrants in Thailand

Worldwide media attention has turned towards Burmese migrant workers, following the arrest last week of two Burmese in Thailand, charged with the gruesome murder of two British tourists on the island of Koh Tao.

An estimated two and a half million Burmese have moved to Thailand – some legally, some illegally – to find work. In addition to the lack of job opportunities in their home country, many are escaping poverty, repression and war.

Most work in labour-intensive industries such as agriculture, construction, fishing or factory work. Invariably, they are lowly paid, usually receiving well below the minimum wage. Yet they continue to take their chances in Thailand, seeking a better living for their families.

But life in Thailand for Burmese migrants is fraught with dangers and difficulties. Many live in constant fear of police and the authorities, frequently paying bribes to corrupt officials to evade deportation.

The following collection of photographs of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand – taken by British photographer John Hulme over a seven-year period – is a pensive reflection of the typical lives of fishermen in Ranong, factory workers in Mae Sot, and construction workers in Chiang Mai.

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