News / Asia

Migrant Workers Take Flight Amid Fears of Thai Crackdown

Cambodian workers ride on military trucks as they prepare to cross the Thai-Cambodia border at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew, June 15, 2014.
Cambodian workers ride on military trucks as they prepare to cross the Thai-Cambodia border at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew, June 15, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thousands of migrant workers have fled back to Cambodia, fearing the Thai military will crackdown on illegal workers. The Thai government has denied ordering the expulsion of workers.
 
Creating chaotic scenes on the Thai-Cambodian border, tens of thousands of undocumented Cambodian laborers have been heading home, fearing a crackdown and aware of unconfirmed reports of the use of force against illegal labor by the Thai military government.
 
Tightened border security following the May 22 military takeover caused an initial movement of migrant workers back home. But in recent days the numbers have risen sharply.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) Asia Pacific spokesman, Joe Lowry, said border checkpoints have been overwhelmed.

"About 75,000 people would have crossed over from Thailand - undocumented Cambodian workers.  They are coming from different parts of Thailand, being at the border and then being taken to their home provinces by a combination of Army and military trucks, mini-buses that we're hiring to get the most urgent cases homes. It has been a chaotic scene on the border for the last 48 hours and it might continue for quite some time," he said.

Thailand's National Health Commission Office estimates there are as many as four million migrant workers in Thailand, with at least 400,000 from Cambodia and more than two million from Myanmar, also known as Burma, as well as some from Laos.  All make vital contributions in industry, agriculture and fishing; areas often avoided by Thai workers.

Sunday, the Thai military and Foreign Ministry issued statements denying there are plans to crackdown on migrant labor.  Military government deputy leader General Tanasak Patimapragon says the administration is taking steps to control migrant labor because of concerns over human trafficking and child labor.

In recent years, a U.N. International Labor Organization backed program has worked to regularize Thailand's undocumented labor through a program of work permits and national passports for migrant workers.

Since the military takeover in May, police and officials are reported to have undertaken raids on migrant neighborhoods, including in the northern city of Chiang Mai, and Trat, a Thai border town with Myanmar, asking migrant workers to present identification cards.

Recent comments by Thai military government leader, General Prayuth Chan-o-cha, calling for better workforce regulation and warning illegal workers about their status led to fears of a crackdown.

But an analyst on migrant worker issues, Andy Hall, said a review of policy is needed.

"They've come out with this commission saying that they are setting up this commission to address migration issues.  I mean I think it is a good thing because migration as a policy in Thailand has been absolutely chaotic. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have been left with without any policy," said Hall.

A Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman, in a statement Sunday, blamed rumors of a crackdown by "unknown sources" for the panic among Cambodian workers as well as Thai employers.  The spokesman also denied any use of force, mass arrests or killings as alleged in news reports.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mike from: United Kingdom
June 15, 2014 1:29 PM
A friend to sends me emails from Cambodia has told me the Thai
and Laos people do not like Cambodians.

by: Adam9 from: Dong Nai, VN
June 15, 2014 11:01 AM
This is very sad.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More