Thai NGOs seek to stop migrant crackdown
ICC Note: Thailand to crackdown on Burma refugee population, deporting unregistered back to Burma
By Vorapoj Singha
6/22/10 Burma (UCAN) - Human rights organizations are urging the Thai government to scrap a controversial taskforce set up to crack down on illegal migrant workers.
The Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) warned in a June 21 statement that the taskforce, to be established in five regional centers, may lead to human right violations.
Previous crackdowns led to the imprisonment of workers, coercion and extortion by corrupt officials, and even violence and death, without promoting national security, the HRDR statement says.
The taskforce will target 300,000 immigrant workers who became illegal after failing to renew their work permits and submit nationality verification requests before a Feb 28 deadline.
The policy may also have unintended effects, suggested Chartchai Amornlertwattana, coordinator of the National Catholic Commission on Migration in Ranong, a southern province bordering Myanmar.
“The Thai economy is heavily reliant on cheap labor that migrants from countries such as Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia provide,” he said.
“Policies need to carefully balance the real economic situation and the continuing need for migrant labor,” he added.
Meanwhile, Suree Vinitchop, director of Santhawamaitri Suksa school run by St. Paul de Chartres nuns in Mae Sot, on the Myanmar border, told ucanews.com that changes on the ground have already begun.
“About two weeks ago, some officials came to our school to inquire about teachers and students. This never happened before,” he noted.
“Migrants moved to Thailand to escape human rights violations, and ethnic or political conflict at home,” said Suree, whose school serves about 200 Myanmar children.