Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thai Students Create Online Petition to Support Migrant Workers

Thai Students Create Online Petition to Support Migrant Workers
By Sai Silp
August 22, 2007

http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=8316

A group of Thai students have set up an online petition to gather support against provincial decrees aimed at migrant workers, which they say are a gross violation of human rights.

The students, who attend Mahidol University in Bangkok, released a statement on Wednesday announcing their online petition to collect signatures opposing provincial decrees that restrict the rights of migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia and Laos.

“These policies and practices are racist, discriminatory and openly promote inhumane treatment of individuals residing in Thailand," the statement said. "We appeal to you for your support in advocating for the immediate withdrawal of the provincial decrees and for no further expansion of this policy into other states.”

The decrees prohibit migrants from using mobile phones without permission from their employers, riding motorbikes or leaving a worksite at night between the hours of 8 pm and 6 am. They also ban migrants from gathering in assemblies of more than five persons.

The student group says the decrees make migrants even more vulnerable to abuse.

“Migrant workers are reporting that police are exploiting the decrees by confiscating workers' phones and motorbikes and then demanding large bribes to release them," the statement said. "Further, migrants are forced to pay bribes to go outside after the curfew time or to undertake legitimate activities such as returning from work, visiting doctors or attending religious or cultural ceremonies.”

In December 2006, the local administration of Phuket Province in southern Thailand imposed a provincial decree on migrant workers, citing security concerns. Similar decrees were then passed in three other provinces: Ranong, Rayong and Pang-nga in early 2007. Surat Thani, Krabi and Chiang Mai provincial administrations have adopted similar practices but have not formalized them in decrees, which have drawn protests from labor and rights activists.

The student group says the decrees should be withdrawn in all provinces and the authorities should not promote negative stereotypes of migrants.

“The Thai Government must live up to its claims to be a free and fair society by promoting humanity and equality,” the statement said.

The petition will be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly by the student group and migrant worker groups at the end of August. The petition is located at
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/support_thai_migrant_workers

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