News / Asia

Cambodians Continuing to Flee Thailand

Cambodian workers get off a train as they prepare to migrate back to Cambodia at Aranyaprathet train station in Sa Kaew, June 15, 2014.
Cambodian workers get off a train as they prepare to migrate back to Cambodia at Aranyaprathet train station in Sa Kaew, June 15, 2014.
Aid organizations in Thailand say tens of thousands of Cambodian migrant workers and their children continue to arrive at a border checkpoint in Thailand. They are unconvinced by the Thai military government’s assurances they are not being targeted in a crackdown intended to rid the country of illegal migrants.
 
The International Organization for Migration and representatives of concerned non-governmental groups tell VOA News thousands of Cambodians are still converging on the Poipet border checkpoint.
 
The numbers for Wednesday are not as large as during the past weekend, but the turnout is “still enormous,” according to those monitoring the situation at the Thai-Cambodian border.
 
It is estimated that at least 200,000 Cambodians this month have fled home from Thailand.
 
Ten concerned organizations, including a Catholic legal aid society, the Migrant Working Group network in Thailand and the international NGO Save the Children have sent an appeal to the country’s military junta to stop suppressing migrant workers.
 
“Now Thai society, especially entrepreneurs, are suffering by the short-sighted policies that focus on national security and arrests and deportation. The immediate thing we want: the army to stop crackdowns and arrests and suppression of migrant workers,” said Roisai Wongsuban, an officer with the Migrant Working Group.
 
Roisai, speaking from Chiang Mai, said unknown parties are taking advantage of the situation there and in Mae Sot, which is on the Thai border with Myanmar, also known as Burma. 
 
“We received the report of persons who dressed like law enforcement and they came to the community and make an extortion situation like they might come to the community to arrest the people. And some people paid the money. And also it creates fear in the community,” said Roisai.
 
That has prompted some employers using undocumented workers to scale back business activities, including factory production.
 
While a substantial percentage -- perhaps the majority -- of Cambodians in Thailand have left the country, activists say those with citizenship from Myanmar have mostly gone into hiding, rather than cross the border.
 
There are an estimated two million workers from Myanmar in Thailand - an essential and cheap workforce for the construction industry and several other industries.
 
Advocates for the migrants met Tuesday with officers of the Royal Thai Army’s Fourth regional command at Mae Sot.
 
Roisai said the soldiers agreed to not target illegal workers there until there is further clarification from the junta leadership, but she remains concerned.
 
“We are talking about a nationwide situation. There are many law enforcement [agencies] besides the army. So, I think, that there is no guarantee that the army would respond to our recommendation,” said Roisai.
 
The junta on Tuesday issued two related decrees. One states there is “no policy as yet to crack down on migrant workers” despite widespread reports to the contrary. It did acknowledge requiring employers to submit, for review, lists of all their workers.
 
The second announcement states that any government officer found to be involved in human trafficking, in particular concerning migrant workers, “shall be punished through both disciplinary and criminal proceedings.”
 
Thailand’s treatment of foreign laborers is under much scrutiny.
 
The country this week faces being placed on the U.S. State Department blacklist of nations failing to adequately address trafficking of persons.
 
The Global Slavery Index (produced by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation) considers Thailand a “hub of exploitation” with victims of slavery originating both from within and outside Thailand’s borders.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid