February 26, 2010
The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) expressed grave concern over the possible impact of a planned crackdown by the Thai Royal Government on more than 1.4 million migrant workers, mostly from Laos, Cambodia and Burma.
According to the IMA, the crackdown is a wishy-washy move of the Thai government to target migrant workers who have failed to submit to the national verification scheme it has recently implemented. The said national verification scheme requires all migrant workers with a two-year work permit to complete a difficult 13-step application process for visa extension.
While the scheme’s deadline was reportedly moved a month earlier (on March 31), the crackdown will still be immediately implemented thereafter.
“Physical abuse, maltreatment and subhuman conditions these are but a few of bad things to come to migrant workers who will be arrested and detained once the Thai government pursues its crackdown,“ said Eni Lestari, chairperson of the IMA. “The Thai government should rethink this plan as it does not only violate a number of regional and international conventions but tramples upon the basic rights of migrant workers.”
Lestari likewise lamented the possible threat the crackdown will have on the Burmese refugees, who make up 80% of the targeted migrants. She said: “Should the crackdown push through, Burmese refugees will not only be subjected to arrest and detention but forced back into a country where they fear for their lives – the very reason they left.”
The crackdown, said Lestari, shall violate the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers which the Thai government recently signed. “With a tarnished human rights record after its maltreatment of the Rohingyas in early 2009, the Thai government could never assure anyone that it shall protect migrant workers,” added Lestari.
The IMA likewise sounded the alarm over the apparently calibrated attack on migrant workers at a global scale. Thailand is the latest government to impose a crackdown on migrant workers following Australia (who recently imposed a crackdown on skilled migrants), Italy and Malaysia.
“It is the most despicable display of hypocrisy on the part of governments who mouth promises to uphold migrants rights but do otherwise,” said Lestari, “Migrant workers, especially the undocumented, are being subjected to criminalization and outright denial of their fundamental rights in countries where more stringent immigration policies are being imposed and racial hatred being fanned”
She retorted further that sending governments should ensure the protection of their citizens and push for agreements with receiving governments to uphold and promote the latter’s rights.
The IMA, the first ever global alliance of grassroots migrant organizations and their advocates, calls on its more than 120 member organizations, friends and the rest of the international community to actively build up the campaign against any crackdown on migrant workers.
“International human rights conventions and laws will remain meaningless in paper if they are not recognized, ratified and actively championed. We call on all migrant workers and refugees to remain vigilant, organize themselves and work with local organizations and movements in stopping this crackdown,” concluded Lestari.
For reference: Eni Lestari
Chairperson, International Migrants Alliance
Uphold and Protect the Rights of Migrants:
Online Petition to Stop the Impending Massive Crackdown of Undocumented Migrant Workers in Thailand
Friday, February 26, 2010
IMA calls Thai Government to withdraw crackdown plan on migrants