Burmese Migrant Workers Arrested in Malaysian Crackdown

Malaysian authorities have arrested about 100 Burmese migrant workers in their latest crackdown on foreign labor.

The arrested migrants include 50 Mon, according to Roi Mon, joint chairman of the Mon Refugee Organization. Twenty Karen are among the arrested Burmese, said Mahn Sein Than, chairman of the Karen Refugee Organization.

Hundreds of other Burmese migrants who escaped arrest have cut their working hours drastically because of fears of new raids. The current crackdown began on June 1.

About 1,000 Burmese migrants work in restaurants and other businesses in one area alone of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, in Petaling Street.

Malaysian authorities have reportedly threatened restaurant owners in Petaling Street that their licenses will be cancelled if they are found to employ foreign workers. “There are longer any Burmese working in the restaurants there,” said Roi Mon.

One Burmese woman, War Yu, said: Two of my friends had to return to Burma last week because they were laid off.”
According to the Kuala Lumpur-based Burma Workers’ Rights Protection Committee, about 500,000 Burmese migrants work in Malaysia, legally and illegally.

The Malaysian government announced last December that the country no longer needs foreign labor and stepped up its efforts to deport migrant workers.

Meanwhile, the Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia and MAP Foundation in Thailand have called on the Malaysian and Thailand governments to protect the rights of Burmese migrants and ensure that migrants can exercise their labor, social, cultural, economic and political rights.

The groups called in a joint statement, released yesterday, for a halt to unjust, discriminatory and unconstitutional policies on migrants. Burmese migrants were in a desperate situation because of the global economic crisis, they said

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