Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New wave of Burmese migrant deportations underway

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 13:33 Mizzima News

Burmese illegal migrants are being rounded up in central Thailand and transferred to Mae Sot to be deported, according to reports.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced a crackdown on illegal migrant labourers in March.

Ten trucks were reported to have arrived in Mae Sot loaded with undocumented Burmese migrants on Tuesday.

The Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge on Asian Highway 1 linking Mae Sot, Thailand, with Myawaddy, Burma. Photo: Wikipedia

Also, about 20 police trucks left Khon Kaen late on Tuesday filled with migrants who numbered around 1,000. Many were believed to be working at the Dechapanit fishnet factory, which was raided on May 10, according to reports. The trucks arrived in Mae Sot on Wednesday, and the migrants were immediately processed into camps controlled by the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), sources said. Nongovernmental organizations gave the migrants food and supplies prior to their deportation in the short time available and witnessed the deportations.

Worker advocates said information from the DKBA camps suggested many of the deportees would be processed through brokers and return to their jobs in Khon Kaen, Kanchanaburi and other areas. They said it was unclear if Thai authorities interviewed the deportees to establish cases of human trafficking or child exploitation prior to their deportation.

Advocates said many of the Khon Kaen workers were owed back wages and are destitute, which is likely to place them in deeper debt to brokers.

Sources said many of those arrested at the fishnet factory could potentially be classified as trafficking victims and up to 30 to 40 child workers between ages 13 to16 were also arrested in the raid.

Labour groups are concerned that the Burmese deportees could follow the usual path of being deported by Thai immigration officials into the hands of the DKBA armed group at the border gate. Workers deported to DKBA areas are often subject to human trafficking, re-trafficking, exploitation, violence, deceit and debt bondage. Usually, they have to pay between US $30 to $70 to obtain their release from DKBA-controlled camps, said labour advocates.

Thailand and Burma continue to have no systematic and protective mechanisms in place at borders to process Burmese deportees from Thailand.

Sources said many recently deported illegal Burmese migrants will soon arrive back at their jobs with the help of exploiting brokers.

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