150,000 work­ers re­turn from Thai­land this year

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - ZAW ZAW HTWE za­wza­whtwe@mm­times.com

About 150,000 Myan­mar work­ers who failed to re­solve their em­ploy­ment sta­tus in Thai­land have re­turned home over the past five months this year, ac­cord­ing to the Home Af­fairs Min­istry.

MORE than 150,000 Myan­mar mi­grants who do not have the proper doc­u­ments re­turned home from Thai­land be­tween June 29 and Novem­ber 27 af­ter the King­dom amended its for­eign labour laws with harsh penal­ties, said Myan­mar’s Min­istry of Home Af­fairs.

Ac­cord­ing to a min­istry state­ment on Wed­nes­day, Myan­mar il­le­gal mi­grants have been re­turn­ing home daily through the bor­der gates of Myawaddy, Dawei, Tanintharyi and Kawthaung.

Govern­ment of­fi­cials are pro­vid­ing shel­ter camps, food and med­i­cal treat­ment for the re­turn­ing work­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­istry, all of­fi­cials at bor­der town are scru­ti­n­is­ing the re­turn­ing mi­grants to en­sure they are free of drugs, not linked to ter­ror­ism, not in­volved in coun­ter­feit­ing, not car­ry­ing weapons or ex­plo­sive ma­te­ri­als, not crim­i­nals, and that they are Myan­mar cit­i­zens.

Ko Shwe Tun Aye, chair of the Mi­grant Work­ers Net­work in Thai­land, told The Myan­mar Times on Fri­day that many Myan­mar il­le­gal mi­grants are stranded in Thai­land be­cause some have not reg­is­tered with the con­cerned agen­cies in the King­dom due to lack of proper doc­u­ments, while oth­ers have changed em­ploy­ers af­ter they were reg­is­tered by their for­mer em­ploy­ers.

“Some il­le­gal work­ers are stranded here till now. They are also hop­ing for a chance to regis­ter again or they will have to go back home,” Ko Shwe Tun Aye said.

He also added that some il­le­gal work­ers are stranded be­cause they can’t af­ford the bro­kers fees to re­turn to Myan­mar. Bro­kers de­mand be­tween 4000 baht and 6000 baht (K250,600) to send each worker back to Myan­mar.

U Aung Kyaw of the Mi­grant Work­ers Right Net­work (MWRN) said that work­ers who do not have proper em­ploy­ers in Thai­land have been re­turn­ing to Myan­mar.

“Myan­mar’s il­le­gal work­ers can re­turn home without be­ing ar­rested. But, some work­ers are us­ing bro­kers who are charg­ing fees be­cause they are afraid of be­ing ar­rested, and some don’t know that they can go back home freely,” U Aung Kyaw said.

“Il­le­gal work­ers can go back home un­til De­cem­ber. They don’t need to use bro­kers. They will be trans­ferred to Myan­mar af­ter they are cleared by Thai au­thor­i­ties,” said U Moe Aung Khaing, a Thai­land­based Myan­mar labour at­taché.

The Thai govern­ment amended its labour laws and added harsh penal­ties and im­pris­on­ment for both em­ploy­ers and il­le­gal for­eign work­ers on June 20, which forced Myan­mar mi­grants without proper doc­u­ments to re­turn home.

U Myo Aung Khaing said they have is­sued cer­tifi­cates of iden­tity to over 300,000 il­le­gal mi­grants in Thai­land.

Photo: Zarni Phyo

A Myan­mar mi­grant worker ar­rives at the tem­po­rary shel­ter in Myawaddy on July 6.

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