OPEN LETTER : ILO Should Urge Thai Prime Minister to Revoke 14th December Migrant Crackdown Threats & Address Migration Chaos

Open Letter to ILO Director General Mr. Guy Ryder:
ILO Should Urge Thai Prime Minister to Revoke 14th December Migrant Crackdown Threats & Address Migration Chaos


For more information on this open letter, please contact:

+66 (0)86 3361110 (Thai language – Sawit Keawan – SERC President)

+66 (0)88 0199554 (Thai/English Language – Chalee Loysong – TLSC President)

+66 (0)86 7555337 (Myanmar language – Aung Jaw – MWRN President)

+66 (0)84 6119209 (English language – Andy Hall – SERC International Advisor)

Thursday 13th December 2012

Dear Mr. Guy Ryder (Director General, International Labour Organisation):

The State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation of Thailand (SERC), the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC) and the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) are all organisations of workers from Thailand and Myanmar formed by workers themselves to promote worker rights in Thailand. We join together in this open letter regardless of nationality or ethnicity and background to protect migrant worker rights. We welcome your visit to Thailand to see the conditions of all workers here, including migrants.

As you may know, Friday December 14th 2012 is the deadline for issuing temporary passports to migrant workers in Thailand from neighbouring Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar as part of the Nationality Verification (NV) process. After that date, all irregular workers will be deported back to their home countries, according to multiple government announcements. The Thai government will tomorrow end a two decades long regularisation process that has generally failed to ensure national, human and economic security for Thailand’s economy and people but and also migrant and their families in origin countries.

On December 14th, an estimated 1.5 million undocumented and registered migrant workers who did not complete the expensive and untransparent NV process to receive temporary passports will become ‘illegal’ workers. Despite diplomatic negotiations involving UN agencies and particularly involvement of an active Myanmar Deputy Labour Minister U Myint Thein, the Thai Labour Ministry cites a previous decision of the Thai National Security Council to justify its harsh position. SERC, TLSC and MWRN agree with the position there should be no extension to the NV deadline however. Migrant regularisation processes in Thailand have generally failed already and extension of a deadline will not improve anything now.

SERC, TLSC and MWRN are however deeply concerned for the fate of millions of migrants from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar after the 14th December 2012 deadline. Every worker who has registered for Thai migrant worker documents during the past two decades would like to complete the NV process and become legal. But these workers face many problems that result not from their own behaviour but the systematic dishonesty and abuse of government officials, employers and recruitment agencies. Although many employers and brokers have taken money from migrants for some time already, workers still did not receive a passport. Migrants miss the opportunity to remain legal by no fault of their own. Likewise, the NV process has descended into a systematically corrupt process of extorting workers with collusion of too many senior government officials, agents and bad employers. Now the new regularisation process, formal import of workers from neighbouring countries, has likewise descended into an extortion process requiring workers to pay more than US$600 and leaving them too often in severe debt bondage to employers and brokers.

All migrant workers in Thailand don’t want to work illegally and anonymously. Although workers would like to follow Thai law, they can only survive according to the time and situation they are in. We believe most migrant workers would like to obey the law if they could. But this basic human right has been denied to millions of migrants in Thailand for over two decades. Migrant workers play an important role in Thailand’s economic and social development. But corrupt officials, recruitment agencies and bad employers continue to act unethically and are causing unfounded suffering to migrant workers for selfish reasons.

Every day abused and disadvantaged people from neighbouring countries migrate to Thailand irregularly. If the concerned authorities implemented systematic labour exchange and migration programmes, this problem would be solved. But instead, all concerned governments work with smuggling and trafficking agents to ensure the fate of us workers is determined not by rule of law but by corruption and abuse. It is time to act.

As the December 14th deadline nears, there are thousands of workers obtaining passport (in accordance with MoU agreements between Thailand and neighbouring countries) who are coming into Thailand. Although the MoU process has advantages for workers and is commendable of itself this process too faces serious challenge due to high costs, confiscation of worker identity documents and debt bondage that too often descends into situations of human trafficking. Thailand and neighbouring countries should ensure implementation of the MoU more effectively to ensure legal migration between Thailand and neighbouring countries becomes a safe and cost effective reality. But instead, all government connive only to exploit.

If policies are implemented in accordance with the multiple announcements of the Thai government, the process of arresting and deporting irregular workers after December 14th should be transparent with respect for human dignity and the rule of law. Arresting and extorting from irregular workers, as generally happens during arrest and deportation processes, is not the way to solve problems of irregular migration. Most of the deported workers on a day to day basis already face serious rights violations with brokers and ethnic militias at border areas of Thailand, particularly at Myawaddy-Mae Sot on the Thai Myanmar-Thai border. If the Thai government will deport workers, officials should also transparently cooperate for the handover of workers to their respective governments with respect for their human dignity.

But at the same time, Thailand is a country whose economy depends significantly on foreign labour. If the Thai government genuinely arrested and deported as many workers as it claims it will on December 14th, the Thai industry will face a significant shortage of labour. SERC, TLSC and MWRN therefore suspect the deportation of irregular workers and imposed deadline is suspicious and will not be carried out systematically. It is just an opportunity by corrupt officials, recruitment agencies and employers to exploit.

SERC, TLSC and MWRN kindly request that you, as Director General of the ILO, liaise with all concerned governments to use the 14th December 2012 deadline to genuinely address the migration chaos currently ongoing in Thailand. We ask you also to request the Prime Minister of Thailand to:

1.      Revoking threats of mass arrests and deportation following 14th December 2012.

2.      Accept that existing NV and MoU processes have become unregulated, expensive and risky for migrants and all parties concerned should find better methods to ensure legal migration in future;

3.      In line with the ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families and international labour and human rights standards, Thailand and neighbouring countries should enter into regional and bilateral negotiations to address long term regional migration challenges with primacy given to protecting the human rights of migrant workers.

Yours sincerely,

State Enterprise and Workers Relations Confederation of Thailand (SERC)

Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC)

Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN)

13th December, 2012 – Bangkok, Thailand

Andy Hall
Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR)
Mahidol University
Thailand: +66 (0) 846119209
Myanmar: +95 (0) 973249947
Twitter @atomicalandy

Swedish arms in Burma ‘arrived via India’

The Swedish anti-tank rifles that ended up in the hands of Burmese soldiers in breach of European Union sanctions were originally exported to India, Sweden’s trade minister said on Thursday.




“The Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (Inspektionen för Strategiska Produkter, has requested an expedited answer from India and my state secretary has been in touch with India’s ambassador,” Trade Minister Ewa Björling said on the floor of the Swedish parliament on Thursday.

She added that ISP’s ability to trace the weapon, a Carl Gustav M3 anti-tank rifle, was evidence that Sweden’s export controls work.

According to Björling, India’s ambassador in Stockholm has confirmed information that the weapon in question is the same as the rifles in Burma,myanmar that the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper first reported about.

She added that the ambassador has promised that India will cooperate with Sweden to investigate how the weapon ended up in Burma, which borders India’s restive north-eastern regions.

“There has been a weapons embargo in place against Burma for a very long time and Sweden hasn’t exported any weapons there since,” Björling said on the Riksdag floor.

According to SvD, the Burmese army used a new model of the Carl Gustav in combat with local rebels and against civilian targets in Burma in October.

When the army withdrew, they left the weapons behind.

Pictures taken by a Burmese freelance photographer and published in the Swedish media this week show a Carl Gustav M3 anti-tank rifle and ammunition left behind by Burmese government soldiers. They were recovered by Kachin rebels after recent clashes.

The weapon’s serial number is clearly visible in one of the photographs.

The Swedish defence group Saab, which manufactures the weapon, has previously said it did not sell the rifle to Burma and suggested its military must have obtained it from a third party.

While Saab is not involved in the current investigation about how the weapon made its way to Burma, representatives have said the company will do whatever necessary to help move the inquest forward


ALERT: Document on Procedure after 14 December 2012 Migrant Workers from Myanmar

Document on
Procedure after 14 December 2012 (Migrant Workers from Myanmar)

1) – Employers collect migrant workers profiles into a list
    – Employers draft request to import migrant workers including demand letter and employment contract

2) – Employers submit migrant worker profile list
    – Employers submit request to import migrant workers including demand letter and employment contract

3) Department of Employment submit the migrant worker profile list, request to import migrant workers including demand letter and employment contract to the government of Myanmar (through 2 centers located in Thailand) for primary screening

4) 2 Myanmar centers in Thailand submit migrant worker profile list including demand letter and employment contract to Myanmar (3 employment centers in Kawthaung, Tachilek and Myawaddy) in order to issue temporary passport and send migrant workers back to work legally according to the MoU.

5) 3 employment centers (in Kawthaung, Tachilek and Myawaddy) inform department of employment name lists of migrant workers who will be issued temporary passport and sent back to work according to MoU

6) – Department of Employment informs employers to confirm the employment and to pick up migrant workers at 3 employment centers
    – Department of Employment informs immigration office for visa stamp and allow migrant workers to come into the country
    – Department of Employment confirm the employment with 3 employment centers

7) – Employers pick up migrant workers at 3 employment centers (in Kawthaung, Tachilek and Myawaddy)
    – Employers take migrant workers into the country through immigration

8) Immigration Officer stamp visa which allow migrant workers to stay in the country

9) Migrant workers submit request for work permit at work permit issuance center along the border

10) Work permit issuance center along the border issue work permit for migrant workers

Andy Hall, who has been working with/for migrants, says since “this process assumes that all irregular migrant workers are in Myanmar / Laos for legal re-entry process, a mass deportation apparently still seems likely — 

Cambodia to face mass return of nationals working in Thailand

Thai and Cambodian labour officials will facilitate the re-employment in Thailand of more than 160,000 Cambodian workers who will possibly be deported to their home country after the nationality verification process ends next Friday, a senior Thai official said today.

The process involves 222,430 Cambodian workers of which only 56,776 have had their nationality verified (between March and November this year) while the remaining 165,654 have yet to complete the required formality.

Prawit Kiengpol, director general of the Thai Employment Department, said the nationality verification process would not be completed by the Friday deadline and unverified Cambodians will be sent back.

He urged Seng Sakda, director general of the Cambodian Labour and Occupational Training Department, to be prepared for a mass exodus of Khmer workers, saying Cambodian officials may have to issue travel documents for those wishing to cross the border into Thailand to work on daily or seasonal basis.

Thai and Cambodian labour officials discussed the matter in a joint meeting today to cope with the return of Cambodian workers after the nationality verification.

Mr Seng urged Thai authorities to speed up the re-employment of Cambodian workers given Thailand’s continued need for foreign labour. He said that Cambodian authorities will urgently issue travel documents or passports to their citizens wanting to work in Thailand on whichever basis.

Mr Prawit called on Thai entrepreneurs who hire foreign workers to inform the Labour Ministry of their required re-employment of Cambodian workers to prevent labour shortage.

By MCOT online news

Published on 7 December 2012

Burma President Thein Sein vows to conserve historical monastery at Lapadaungtaung

13.12.2012 credit EMG

President Thein Sein said yesterday the government will help conserve Phahtama Laldi Sayardawgyi’s Monastery and Stupa, a historical religious place at Lapadaungtaung area in central Myanmar.

The president said this is in response to an earlier request made by monks from 100 Buddhist monasteries in Monywa Township, Sagaing.

The announcement was made as monks demonstrated in various places around the country including Yangon, Mandalay, Monywa, Pakokku and Sittwe against the violent crackdown on protesters at a copper mine in Lapadaungtaung.




“Over a hundred monasteries in Monywa together made the request since Thidingyut Full Moon day. It is strange that the government granted it only on the day of the demonstrations. Government should have done it earlier if it is their true intention. Demonstrating monks are now requesting the President to apologise to them for the Lapadaungtaung crackdown and to identify the officials behind the brutal action,” a monk said.

Phahtama Laldi Sayardawgyi’s Monastery and Stupa is situated in Lapadaungtaung project area, Sarlingyi Township in Sagaing Division, and it is where a Buddhist religious figure Venerable Laldi Monk lived in his lifetime.

from Swedish with love

democracy for burma

12 December 2012, 11:58 CET  credit eubusiness.(STOCKHOLM) – Sweden’s export control agency said Wednesday it was investigating how Swedish-made weapons ended up in the hands of Myanmar soldiers in breach of European Union sanctions.

Pictures taken by a Myanmar freelance photographer and published in the Swedish media this week show a Carl Gustaf M3 anti-tank rifle and ammunition left behind by Myanmar government soldiers and recovered by Kachin rebels after recent clashes.

The weapon’s serial number is clearly visible in one of the photographs.

The European Union has had a weapons embargo against Myanmar since 1996.

“There is an investigation underway. We have the photographs and the serial number,” a spokeswoman for the Swedish Agency for Non-Profileration and Export Controls (ISP), Diana Malm, told AFP.

Swedish defence group Saab, which manufactures the weapon, has said it did not sell the rifle to Myanmar and suggested its military must have…

View original post 840 more words