Thai authorities arrest 300 illegal Burmese migrants

Jan 30, 2008 (DVB), Three hundred illegal Burmese migrant workers were arrested by Thai immigration on Monday in a raid on a garment factory in Bangkok, according to migrant sources.

Thai immigration conducted a surprise raid on Lai Ling garment factory in Mahachai district, which employs around 2000 Burmese migrants.

Ko Khine Zaw Linn, a Burmese migrant worker at the factory, said that many of the workers tried to flee the factory when the authorities arrived.

"First they blocked all the exits including the fire escape around the back of the factory to stop us escaping. Then six lock-up trucks arrived and they started busting people," said Khine Zaw Linn.

"Some people hurt themselves jumping from high floors in a desperate attempt to flee the factory and about four people were admitted to hospital for their injuries."

Those who were arrested are now being detained at a police station in Mahachai district.

Most of the workers had no proper legal documentation, while others had Thai labour cards but had not extended their registration in 2007.

Khine Zaw Linn also expressed concern about his wife, Ma Moe Myint Khin, who was arrested during the raid.

"My wife is in detention now and will be there for 45 days. She’ll be sent somewhere far away like Mae Sot [on the Thai-Burma border] after that," he said.

U Kyaw Thaung, coordinator of the Mae Sot-based Yaung Chi Oo Burmese migrants' association, said that hordes of Burmese migrants were still entering Thailand, despite the ongoing crackdowns on illegal immigrants.

"They come to Thailand despite knowing about the situation here because they cannot earn enough money in Burma to make a living," said Kyaw Thaung.

"The State Peace and Development Council’s mismanagement of Burma has turned the country into a factory making slaves for its neighbouring countries."

Reporting by Saw Kanyaw

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