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Thai junta: No crackdown on foreign workers

Publication Date : 17-06-2014


Video showing the shooting of a pickup carrying cambodians seen to have raised fears


Thailand's military junta yesterday stressed there was no policy to crack down on migrant workers here despite the exodus of more than 120,000 Cambodian "illegals" amid rumours of fierce operations targeting them.

"The military has no policy to do anything with migrant workers. There are no troops hunting migrant workers in Thailand," spokesman Winthai Suvari said.

The junta's 59th order on June 10 to set up a committee chaired by General Tanasak Patimapragorn, the Supreme Commander and deputy head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), would take care of policy matters, not an operation to crack down on  workers, he said.

Thanit Noumnoi, deputy director of the Labour Ministry's Employment Department, said most Cambodian workers had returned home because their four-year contracts had expired. Some, he added, had returned for work on farms as the planting season in their country had started.

However, many had panicked about the political situation in Thailand and the recent rumour that people were being shot, he said.

"The labour ministry is now working to help them know the real situation, that we don't have policy to crack down on them," he said, adding that the ministry was producing posters and billboards that will show the correct information.

The exodus of Cambodian workers would not have serious ramifications on the economy, he claimed, saying the demand for labour would not rise until the economy takes off in the next six months.

Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Sihasak Phungketkeow is due to meet today with Cambodian Ambassador to Thailand, Eat Sophea, to explain the Thai policy on migrant workers and ask her to convey to her countrymen a better understanding of the situation involving Cambodian workers in Thailand.

Despite the junta's assurance that there is no crack down on migrant workers, a number of Cambodian workers continue crossing the border back to their home country, as they do not trust the situation in Thailand and relatives at home have been urging them to return for their safety.

A video clip that circulated yesterday showed a group of armed men dressing like police in hot pursuit of Cambodian workers on a truck in Bothong district, Chon Buri. The clip, while later proved to be real, fuelled more fears among the Cambodians.

The incident took place on Sunday when gunmen on a pick-up shot the tyres of another truck laden with Cambodian workers. The truck later overturned killing two Cambodians and injuring many others on board. Stray bullets also injured an 11-year-old girl walking along the road during the pursuit, according to Suwichan Yankittikul, deputy Chon Buri provincial police commander. The police arrested some suspects who are now under investigation, he said.

However, roundups of migrant workers are conducted on a daily basis. Officials in Chiang Mai yesterday detained briefly more than 100 foreign workers standing at a site where migrants wait for jobs in that province. The foreign workers were all released later after showing their documents.


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