Burma’s State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi is slated to visit Thailand on 23-25 June when she will discuss bilateral relations with her Thai counterparts.
Speaking to DVB, Aye Aye Soe, the deputy director-general of the ministry’s consular and legal affairs department, said that in addition to Thai-Burmese relations, Suu Kyi aims to discuss matters relating to cooperation on health and education, as well as the rights of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, of whom there are an estimated two to four million.
Suu Kyi met with Burmese migrant communities when she visited Thailand in 2012 – her first sojourn abroad after she was released from house arrest. Later that same year, she was elected as an MP in by-elections. This month’s trip will mark the first official visit to neighbouring Thailand by the de facto Burmese leader.
Aung Kyaw, the deputy-director of the Bangkok-based Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN), said his group hopes to schedule a meeting with Suu Kyi during her visit to the Thai capital.
“At the end of last month, we were at a meeting with the Thai Ministry of Labour and they mentioned to us that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would be paying a state visit to Thailand at the invitation of the government,” he said.
“We were able to meet her freely at our office in Mahachai [a fishing port near Bangkok where thousands of migrant Burmese work] during her previous visit as a civilian in 2012. However this time, she’ll be on an official visit so she can only go to places the Thai officials take her. We may have to follow her [to secure a meeting].”
The MWRN met last month with Burmese Labour Ministry officials in Naypyidaw where they said they discussed labour and migrant rights issues.
Prominent labour activist Andy Hall said he hopes to meet with Suu Kyi during her upcoming visit to Thailand.
“I helped arrange meetings between Suu Kyi and migrant workers during her trip back in 2012, but so far we haven’t received much news about the upcoming trip,” he said.
“I would like to urge her to push the Thai government to ensure equal labour rights and legal protection for migrant workers.”
Thailand has been under military rule since a coup d’état in May 2014. Burma, by contrast, appears to be emerging from decades of military dictatorship since Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy swept to victory in national polls last year.