Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Thai deportation policy under fire
via CAAI News Media

Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Usa Pichai

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Thai government’s policy to deport millions of Burmese migrants from Thailand from March 1 has come under fire from labour rights groups and triggered protests.

Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) led rights organizations have complained to representatives of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants and on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, as well as the Director General of the International Labour Organisation. The complaint letter noted that over two million migrants are threatened with deportation by the Royal Thai Government after 28 February if they fail to go by the nationality verification, a press statement released on Tuesday said.

“Thailand’s migration policies must be carefully planned to ensure protection of migrants’ human rights. The nationality verification process has not been well thought out and remains a serious threat to human security of over two million workers that contribute greatly to our economy and society,” said Somchai Homlaor, Secretary General of the HRDF.

The groups mentioned that most migrants from Burma left their country illegally but are still being pressurized by the government to submit their biographical information to Burma’s regime, return to Burma to complete the process and then return to work “legally” in Thailand with temporary Burmese passports.

According to the Thailand Ministry of Labour, only 10 per cent of migrant workers from Lao and Cambodia in Thailand have submitted documents to extend their work permits at of the end of January.

Thanit Chumnoi, the Director of Office Of Foreign Workers Administration said last week that the total number of registered migrant workers this year is about 140, 000 against the total 1,400,000 last year.

The rights groups said that the declining numbers is because of the nationality verification that most migrants in Thailand do not yet understand and have not yet started the process.

“The Government must extend the February 28 deadline and immediately stop threatening mass deportation. Threatening migrants to comply with the imminent deadline or face deportation disregards the challenging situation faced by migrants from Burma,” said Sawit Keawan, General Secretary of the State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation (SERC).

“Additionaly, if mass deportations are carried out it will serve only to harm Thailand’s economy which remains heavily reliant on migrant labour, as well as Thailand’s international reputation,” he added.

On Tuesday morning, migrant workers, trade unionists and rights defenders marched to the Government House to submit an open letter of concern to the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, signed by over 60 domestic, regional and international rights groups and trade unions. The letter demands an end to threats of mass deportation for migrants and sweeping changes in the government’s nationality verification policy.

Meanwhile in Chiang Mai, a northern province of Thailand, where ten thousands of Shan ethnic from Burma are working in several business ventures, representative from the group also submitted the letter through the Deputy Governor Pirote Saengphuwong.

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