News / Asia

Burmese Migrants in Thailand Await Changes Back Home

Burmese Migrants in Thailand Await Changes Back Homei
|| 0:00:00
X
Steve Sandford
September 10, 2012 5:44 PM
Millions of Burmese migrant workers have long sought economic opportunity abroad, but their life in exile frequently means working outside the law, in risky or dangerous jobs. Steve Sandford reports from northern Thailand on their life in legal limbo and some proposals that could change it.

Burmese Migrants in Thailand Await Changes Back Home

TEXT SIZE - +
— Millions of Burmese migrant workers have long sought economic opportunity abroad, but their life in exile frequently means working outside the law, in risky or dangerous jobs.

In Thailand there are more than a million registered Burmese migrant workers. The number of unregistered is even greater, and many of them work jobs that Thai laborers are often unwilling to do.
 
Working without proper documentation can often lead to arrest and deportation. But many, like Ta Jandee, say they prefer that risk to returning to Burma.
 
“When I was living in Burma. I got arrested by Burmese soldiers and they forced me to be a porter. I had to carry supplies for them in the jungle. That was a hard part of my life. That’s why I fled to Thailand,” he said.
 
The reluctance to go back home may be changing, with political reforms underway.

As migrants weigh a return, they are hungry for information about what is happening back home. Many turn to programs produced by the Migrant Assistance Program (MAP), based at a radio station in Chiang Mai, Thailand, just a few hours from the Burmese border.
 
MAP head Jackie Pollock says the reforms now underway in Burma will hopefully improve working conditions for migrants in Thailand.
 
“With Burma opening a little bit that is going to put pressure on Thailand because up until now there have been three million workers who had no choices and had no government to speak on their behalf or advocate for them,” Pollock said.
 
For years, Pollock and a team of Thai and Burmese legal advisers have worked as migrant advocates.
 
“Now it seems that the Burmese government, the ministry of labor means to be taking up the issue of migrant workers and so hopefully they will start to put a little pressure on Thailand to improve the conditions here,” Pollock said.
 
Such groups have long been a critical safety net, but there are signs of new help from Burma's government.

Last month, the Burmese government offered to issue certificates of identity to migrant workers in Thailand who wanted to return home.
 
For expectant parents like Ta Jandee and his wife Lugao, having more legal options is hopefully a sign of good things to come.
 
“When my child starts school he will need a birth certificate. In the future, I want my child to have higher education. If we still live in Thailand, I want them to study Thai. If we go back to Burma, I want them to study Burmese,” he said.
 
In the meantime, Ta Jandee says Burma’s ongoing armed conflicts that continue in several states still make him wary of going back to Burma. For him and many others it could still be months or years before they feel safe enough to return to their home country.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid