Human Rights: Latest victim of Prayuth’s junta abuse? Cambodian Migrant Workers

The Prayuth junta is off to a nasty start, as far as human rights are concerned. After being blasted by the UN and Asian high commissions for human rights violation, related the junta crack-down on anti-coup protesters, the junta tool Thailand straight into another human rights crisis, with Thailand being the only country globally, refusal to sign a new International Labor Organization protocol. Then right after that, an old issue popped up, concerning Thailand usage of slave labor in its seafood industry. Then on top of all of that, is the crack-down on free press and social network, that have alarmed global freedom of the press units.

The latest victim is Cambodians, where there is an an out-cry over Prayuth’s junta treatment of Cambodian migrant worker in Thailand.

Most soldiers are neat and orderly! However, the idea of migrant worker, as it fits into the concept of human rights and free market, is anything but neat and orderly, but involves a great many issues at stake.  These migrant and human rights issues are complex, highly sensitive and complicated. The military, with its neat and orderly mind-set, with a dictatorial behavior, is the last thing, issues like the Cambodian migrant labor in Thailand needs.

The following Tweet is from Bangkok Post national security journalist, Wassana, about the migrant labor situation.

Deep Blue Sea @WassanaNanuam • Jun 13

ผบ.ทบ.ตู่ สั่ง ผบสส.เร่งแก้ปัญหาแรงงานต่างด้าว ตอนนี้มีถึง 90,000 คน ให้เสร็จใน1เดือน พิสูจน์สัญชาติ จัดเขตทำงาน แยกประเภท และการส่งกลับ

(Translation: Thai Army Chief Prayuth (Junta Head) orders Joint Chiefs of Staff to rush solving illegal migrant labor situation, that right now, have about 90,000 such illgal workers. The problem must be solved in 1 month, including, identifying nationality, zoning of workers and separation of work type, including sending illegal migrant workers back to their home country)

The following is a statement:

By

 The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC):

(CHRAC is a coalition of 21 NGOs working on the promotion of Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law in Cambodia deplores the decision of the Thai junta to deport Cambodian migrants en masse and demands that their deportation is carried out in a manner which respects their human rights)

The Statement: (Source)

Since June 1st, 2014, about 40,000 Cambodian workers in Thailand have self-deported or have been forcibly removed from the country by the military junta. ADHOC investigators have received credible witness accounts up to nine Cambodian migrants have been killed, and that beatings have occurred at the hands of the Thai armed forces.. Unfortunately, in times of crisis in Thailand Cambodians are often scapegoated. Many Cambodian workers are now stranded at the border without enough money to get them home.

In the past, the authorities have turned a blind eye to the presence of illegal immigrants in Thailand needed for booming economy. But the situation has changed and the country has experienced a decline in GDP of 2.1%1 in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the previous quarter.

Human Dignity is a fundamental human right as mentioned under Article 1 of United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to which both Thailand and Cambodia are signatories.

The Thai military violated the human rights of undocumented Cambodian migrant workers when it forcefully expelled them from the country, placing them in crowded trucks. This treatment subjected these workers to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment as prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Moreover, due to inadequate preparation and coordination between the Thai and Cambodian authorities, the migrants workers have been forced to shelter in makeshift tents at the border, and hundreds more workers continue to arrive every day. Water, food, healthcare and shelter are severely limited. .

To address and improve the situation of human rights of these Cambodian migrant workers, CHRAC calls and put forwards the following recommendations to both Thai and Cambodian governments follows:

Thai government shall create a due process for deportation of Cambodian migrant workers and ensure that Cambodian migrant workers’ right are respected and inform Cambodian Embassy and/or Consular in Thailand in relation to the arrest, detention and any necessary deportation of Cambodian migrant workers and treat them fairly and humanely.

Thai government shall promote and respect the migrant workers human rights and shall also fulfil its international human rights obligations regarding the treatment of Cambodian migrant workers as members of ASEAN.

Thai government should immediately investigate allegations of killings of Cambodians.

Cambodian government should create ad-hoc commission to monitor Cambodian migrant workers’ situation and address emergency issues faced by Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand and have a clear plan for the evacuation of Cambodian migrant workers, providing them temporary shelter, food and water.

Cambodian government should set up temporary offices to provide emergency support and assistance to Cambodian migrant workers and widely disseminate the temporary offices where Cambodian migrant workers are located and working.

Voice of America reports (Source):

Officials in Phnom Penh say thousands of Cambodian workers have fled Thailand since the military coup in Bangkok, and more people are crossing the border every day.

Workers are crossing over mostly via the border town of Poipet in Banteay Meanchey province. Cambodian officials say some have been forced out while others are fleeing.

Government officials put the number of workers who have left the country at 20,000, but human rights groups say the number could be double that.

Sum Chankea, a coordinator for the rights group ADHOC, says in an interview with VOA’s Khmer service that many of those returning were mistreated in Thailand.

“They sent most of them on June 9, 10, 11 and 12.  We interviewed some of them yesterday. We found that there are middle people who took money from them. Then military did the same and physically abused them as well,” said Chankea.

Kong Veasna, who worked in a Thai plastics factory for three years, says the coup is not the only reason he returned home.

“At home I couldn’t earn anything and was in debt. I decided to be a worker in Thailand so that I could pay my debts. The Thai bosses physically abused us. We then we decided to come back home. That’s it,” said Veasna.

Cambodian authorities are working with the International Organization for Migration to help workers once they get across the border.

Kor Sumsaroeun, governor of Banteay Meanchey, said the workers are being given assistance as they cross the border.

“First, we gave each of them a pack of cooked rice and a bottle of water when they arrived. We also provided them with healthcare service. Second, transportation. We got 30 trucks from OM [Operation World], five trucks from National Police Commissioner, 10 trucks from Engineering Department and five trucks Immigration Police General Department,” said Sumsaroeun.

Bangkok has also been cracking down on migrant workers from Myanmar, also known as Burma. Workers say Thai security forces have shut down illegal crossing points along that border, stranding many who cross back and forth for work.

Traditionally, Thailand has been a tempting place for Cambodians to work, especially the rural poor. An estimated 400,000 Cambodians work in Thailand, legally or not, while those from Myanmar are believed to number more than one million. A Thai spokesman recently said illegal workers represent a “threat” to Thailand.

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