Se­nior Myan­mar of­fi­cials sued by mi­grant rights group

The Myanmar Times - - News - ZAW ZAW HTWE za­wza­whtwe@mm­times.com

A THAI­LAND-BASED mi­grant rights group is su­ing se­nior fig­ures from the Myan­mar Over­seas Em­ploy­ment Agen­cies Fed­er­a­tion and the Min­istry of Labour fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that the of­fi­cials ex­ploited the very work­ers they are meant to help.

The Myan­mar As­so­ci­a­tion in Thai­land has launched pro­ceed­ings against the Min­istry of Labour’s per­ma­nent secretary U Myo Aung, MOEAF’s chair U Min Hlaing, its vice chair U Win Htun and gen­eral secretary U Kyaw Htin Kyaw for vi­o­la­tions of Myan­mar’s in­surance and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions laws. At least one of the ac­cused has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

U Kyaw Thaung, leader of the Thai­land-based rights or­gan­i­sa­tion, said the se­nior of­fi­cials have il­le­gally been sell­ing Thai and Malaysian SIM cards and life in­surance poli­cies to work­ers trav­el­ling abroad.

Each month, ac­cord­ing to MOEAF fig­ures, more than 7000 Myan­mar ci­ti­zens ven­ture to ei­ther Malaysia or Thai­land for work. There, many mi­grants suf­fer ex­ploita­tion, un­safe work­ing con­di­tions and un­fair treat­ment at the hands of em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ment bro­kers.

“[These of­fi­cials] are ex­ploit­ing our mi­grant work­ers by co­op­er­at­ing with the bro­kers and abus­ing their author­ity. This is why I have to sue them,” U Kyaw Thaung said, adding that he had suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to sup­port his claims.

The law­suits fol­low an ini­tial com­plaint against the four men sent to Myan­mar’s pres­i­dent as well as State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

“This law­suit is not a per­sonal at­tack ... I just want to re­veal the im­proper be­hav­iour of of­fi­cials who are meant to help work­ers in­stead of ex­ploit­ing them,” U Kyaw Thaung said.

MOEAF chair U Min Hlaing has re­sponded to the al­le­ga­tions, deny­ing any wrong­do­ing.

“We are not sell­ing SIM cards. We give them to the work­ers free of charge,” he said.

He added that this prac­tice was in­tended to as­sist mi­grants who might face trou­ble abroad and need to call some­one for help. He said the prac­tice was fol­lowed since the pre­vi­ous govern­ment and is a pro­to­col that was sanc­tioned by the Min­istry of Labour.

U Min Hlaing also stated that pro­vid­ing life in­surance to mi­grant work­ers was le­gal and that it was based on a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing be­tween the Myan­mar and Thai gov­ern­ments un­der which the former’s Min­istry of Labour agreed to cover the cost of com­pen­sa­tion for mi­grant work­ers in­jured in work­place ac­ci­dents.

The Myan­mar Times was un­suc­cess­ful in its at­tempts to reach U Myo Aung, per­ma­nent secretary of the Min­istry of Labour, for com­ment on the al­le­ga­tions.

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