Thai govt asked to stop migrants’ crackdown plan

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Veronica Uy
Inquirer (Philippines)

MANILA, Philippines—The Thai Royal Government must stop its planned crackdown on more than 1.4 million migrant workers, mostly from Laos, Cambodia, and Burma, citing possible violations of international and regional conventions if it proceeds with the plan.

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) made the appeal in a statement e-mailed to media outfits over the weekend.

The crackdown follows after the Thai government ruled that migrant workers need to submit to the national verification scheme which requires all migrant workers with a two-year work permit to complete a 13-step application process for visa extension.

While the scheme’s deadline was reportedly moved a month earlier (on March 31), the crackdown will still be immediately implemented thereafter, IMA said.

“Physical abuse, maltreatment, and subhuman conditions, these are but a few of bad things to come to migrant workers who will be arrested and detained once the Thai government pursues its crackdown,” said IMA chairperson Eni Lestari.

“The Thai government should rethink this plan as it does not only violate a number of regional and international conventions but tramples upon the basic rights of migrant workers.”

Lestari also lamented the possible threat the crackdown will have on the Burmese refugees, who make up 80 percent of the targeted migrants.

“Should the crackdown push through, Burmese refugees will not only be subjected to arrest and detention but forced back into a country where they fear for their lives—the very reason they left,” she said.

The crackdown, said Lestari, will violate the Asean Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers which the Thai government recently signed.

“With a tarnished human rights record after its maltreatment of the Rohingyas in early 2009, the Thai government could never assure anyone that it shall protect migrant workers,” added Lestari.

The IMA also sounded the alarm over the apparently calibrated attack on migrant workers at a global scale. Thailand is the latest government to impose a crackdown on migrant workers following Australia (which recently imposed a crackdown on skilled migrants), Italy, and Malaysia.

“It is the most despicable display of hypocrisy on the part of governments who mouth promises to uphold migrants rights but do otherwise,” said Lestari, “Migrant workers, especially the undocumented, are being subjected to criminalization and outright denial of their fundamental rights in countries where more stringent immigration policies are being imposed and racial hatred being fanned.”

She retorted further that sending governments should ensure the protection of their citizens and push for agreements with receiving governments to uphold and promote the latter’s rights.

The IMA, a global alliance of grassroots migrant organizations and their advocates, calls on its more than 120 member-organizations, friends and the rest of the international community to actively build up the campaign against any crackdown on migrant workers.

“International human rights conventions and laws will remain meaningless in paper if they are not recognized, ratified, and actively championed. We call on all migrant workers and refugees to remain vigilant, organize themselves, and work with local organizations and movements in stopping this crackdown,” Lestari said.


Post a Comment