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Thailand-based Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) has urged the Burmese government to discuss the plight of Burmese migrant workers during Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s visit to Naypyidaw from 9-10 October.
“We are calling on the Burmese and Thai governments to discuss the migrants’ plight as they don’t have any legal protection in Thailand,” said Aung Kyaw, deputy-chairman of MWRN.
“Based on our findings in various regions of Thailand, many Burmese migrants are unable to access the healthcare and welfare benefits to which they’re entitled or receive the official minimum wage of 300 baht (US$10) per day,” said Aung Kyaw. “Also, we have found cases of forced labour and migrant workers with official documents being arrested and extorted by corrupt officials.”
The MWRN is urging both countries to protect the rights granted to Burmese migrants under Thai laws and take action against corrupt government officials and brokers who exploit the migrant community.
Aung Kyaw said there are around three million Burmese migrants in Thailand, but only about two million have official documents. For those without documentation, it’s extremely difficult to safeguard the legal rights, remedies and protections they’re entitled to under Thai law.
As an example, the migrant rights advocate said that, “Migrant workers must report to immigration every 90 days under Thai law and they should not be charged for this, but in reality they are being compelled to pay brokers to handle this process.”
The MWRN statement also said that Burmese migrants are easy targets for individuals, groups and government agencies looking to pin blame on someone for societal ills or unresolved crimes. As a result, Burmese migrants are often convicted of trumped-up charges and cannot adequately defend themselves because legal and translation services are either too expensive or unavailable.
MWRN’s statement was released shortly after two Burmese migrant workers were detained as suspects in a high-profile investigation into the murder of two British tourists on the island of Koh Tao.