Report helps ease tension between Thai and Shan communities


A report released by Thai TV or formerly Thai PBS on 22nd March, at 21:00, about recent crackdown on Shan migrant workers in Chiangmai, has stimulated Thai society to learn about the Shan people after seeing how hundreds of Shan migrants had suffered the repercussions of the Mae Joe student’s rape and murder last month, according to sources.

The report “Thai Yai-Displaced labor” by Perdpom program showed how the 7 February Mae Joe student’s rape and murder had led to a mass departure of Shan migrant workers from different locations of Chiangmai province to their hometowns and villages.

Many viewers said the report was very touching and educative. A number of Shan viewers, including monks, wept after seeing it. A number of Thai viewers also said they have now learned how and why Shan came to Thailand and would wish to learn more about the Shan.

A monk studying in Bangkok said that, “I was very sad when I saw many of Shan migrants were had to hide in the jungle without no food and water. I could not help shedding tears. The report had helped the Thai community to understand Shan plight and will motivate Thais to learn or read the past history between the two cousins. It also can move the Thai government to think about new registration for the new arrivals, according to sources.

Saengmuang Mangkorn, Chairman of the Chiangmai-based Shan Literature and Culture Association was quoted by the report as saying that many people came here not only because of economic crisis in the country but also to escape abuses from the Burmese military.

Khuensai Jaiyen, Editor in Chief of Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN), explained about the political situation in Burma.

A Thai businessman was also quoted as commenting, “If all migrants are pushed back, no one will do the work they are doing now. These migrants are also assisting Thai economy. It will therefore be better if the government opens new registration for them.”

Hark Murng, a member of Chiangmia-based Migrant Assistant Program (MAP) said that, “This report can change Thai community attitude because it includes employer view how migrant workers assist Thai economy. It means the economy can’t run without migrant workers.”

Another migrant worker said that migrants are struggling to survive in Thailand. “The best way is for Thai government agencies to make its policy realistic and practical, which means to welcome migrant workers into the system.”

A member of Workers Solidarity Association added, “It reminds both sides to have more understanding on each other, and to learn from each other.”

The report will be aired again on 27 March 2009 at 11:00 on the Thai TV channel.

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