Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Irrawaddy: Burmese Embassy Raises Migrant Worker Issues With Thailand

The Irrawaddy reports:
The Burmese ambassador to Thailand on Wednesday spoke up for migrant workers in a meeting with a senior Thai Ministry of Interior official, according to an embassy official. Labor rights activists have for a long time alleged widespread labor exploitation, extortion by Thai police and human trafficking of migrant workers, hundreds of thousands of whom cross the border from Burma in search of higher wages... The ambassador also talked about the issue of Thai police arbitrarily arresting or asking for money from documented Burmese migrants in some places of Thailand, he said.The Burmese Embassy in Bangkok has attempted to intervene on labor rights violations since the President Thein Sein took office in 2011, the attaché said... But migrant workers are reportedly still been preyed upon by unscrupulous agents or middlemen, as well as the Thai police, despite having legal documents, obtained under a 2009 scheme named the National Verification Process and Issuance of Temporary Passport... Ma Khine, a migrant worker who recently traveled from Bangkok back to Burma last month, told The Irrawaddy that even though she has all the necessary documents—a temporary passport and valid work permit—she still had problems traveling. She said Thai police at a checkpoint between Bangkok and the Mae Sot border crossing asked her to pay 100 baht (US$3.20) as “tea money”—a term understood to mean a bribe. “I did not want any trouble, so I paid when I was stopped at two out of five checkpoints along the Bangkok-Mae Sot road,” Mai Kine said.

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