Four hundred migrant workers arrested
Friday, 05 June 2009 07:48
Four hundred migrant workers and their children were arrested by Thai border guards at around 3 am, yesterday morning. The Thai border guard soldiers raided the “44 Kilo Village” in Phuphaya townsip, south of Mae Sot on the Thai-Burma border. After they arrested four hundreds migrants, including children who are studying in school, the soldiers also burnt the houses, clothes and kitchen wares of migrants in the village who had managed to escaped arrest.
“They ran. The soldiers burnt about three or four houses and about thirty houses in the village were destroyed. They took all the chickens of the villagers,” said Ma Yin Win, a witness who escaped arrest. “The three 70-year old people,” she added, “including pregnant women with babies were also arrested. We’re anxious about so many difficulties. We moved to Thailand as it was too difficult for us even to survive in Burma. Thailand’s also not safe for us. We now have so many difficult situations.”
Htike Thu Aung, who is a teacher of migrant children in 44 kilo village, said, “All 120 children from kindergarten to grade five, studying in our school were arrested. They also arrested the people nearby my place. If they want to arrest the workers without work permit cards, ok, they can. Now, why did they even burn the houses of the villagers? The parents of a child from Kindergarten have work permit cards. The child was staying with his grandparents. The soldiers arrested the grandparents together with the child. The child’s parents begged them not to arrest their child but the soldiers did anyway. They even burnt the houses. They’re so cruel!”
The soldiers continuously carried all the arrested migrant villagers by truck from 3 am, early in the morning to 8 am. Last month, the same had happened in that village (44 kilo). The soldiers raided the village and expelled the villagers from the village. Since then the villagers had been hiding in the nearby forest for a month. Now, the soldiers have arrested them and burnt their houses down not long after they returned home from the forest due to it being rainy season.
“The reason for the arrests was not having work permit cards. We don’t understand Abhisit who said that Thailand fully respects human rights. All the workers, working in this area, are from Burma. They don’t get paid full wages. They get the wages from 60 Baht to 100 Baht (US$1.7 to US$ 2.8) per day. All the profits from the workers’ effort are just for Thailand. The Thai authorities should be sympathetic the workers whom they get the profits from,” said Ko Nyo Maung, a teacher in “44 Kilo Village.”
Ko Moe Gyo, the Chairman of Joint Action Committee for Burmese Affair (JACBA), said, “On the 28th of March 2009 the Thai soldiers raided “War Taw Village” which lies about 48 Kilometers from Phuphaya township. They burnt 80 houses and all the houses were destroyed. The villagers fled to the forest. We gave food and other necessary things to two hundred workers who had fled into the forest. The Thai government need to respect human rights as Thailand is a democratic country. It has said that over two million foreign migrant workers will be registered. They should wait until the registration period has finished before they arrest illegal migrant workers. If the workers have work permit cards, it will be good for their health and safety. They will be able to go out safely. However, the firm owners don’t want to help those workers who are working for them. Aside from the police and immigration officers, a Thai volunteer force also harasses the Burmese workers. We don’t like such an unfair behavior.”
According to migrant teachers and volunteers who are working in the “44 Kilo Village” area, the Thai soldiers raided the villages of Burmese workers and burnt their houses twice in 2008 and another twice in 2009, including this time.