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Andy Hall briefs Aung San Suu Kyi in December about Thailand's labor crisis

Expat Activist Faces Jail Threat

Friday, March 1, 2013
PHUKET: British activist Andy Hall, whose work with Thailand's oppressed Burmese workforce has won international praise, is being sued for $10 million.

He has been accused of broadcasting false statements under Thailand's Computer Crime Act, a charge that carries a maximum jail term of two years.

Mr Hall, who was instrumental in bringing Burmese Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to Thailand on her first overseas trip last year, has also been charged with defaming and damaging the Natural Fruit Company by broadcasting false statements to public media.

Defamation is a criminal offence in Thailand.

Mr Hall, 33, organised Ms Suu Kyi's historic visit to Mahachai, a fishing port south of Bangkok that is home to 250,000 of the estimated two million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand.

The latest issue of 'The Economist' reports that a UN survey found that of 49 migrant fishermen interviewed, 29 said that they had witnessed skippers murdering crewmen when they were too weak or sick to work.

The Thai government has long overlooked abuses, the magazine says.

In his report for a Finnish organisation, Mr Hall alleged that a pineapple canning factory run by the Natural Fruit Company employed Burmese children as young as 14, failed to pay the Thai minimum wage, confiscated travel documents and forced people to work 20-hour days.

He told Britain's 'Daily Telegraph' that he believed the charges were politically motivated.

The charges against Mr Hall come as the the US State Department continues to criticise Thailand's lack of action on illegal immigration and forced labor, putting the country on a par with Afghanistan, Chad, Iraq and Niger.

''There have been official attempts to silence me, and this court case is the last stage of harassment,'' he said.

He told Bangkok-based journalist Andrew Drummond that in any case, he had yet to pay off his debt for a law course at London University.

''I think it's ridiculous to bring a court case against someone like me,'' Mr Hall said. ''It sends a very negative message to the outside world.''

Mr Hall cut short a holiday on Phuket when the call came last year to organise Ms Suu Kyi's historic visit to Thailand.

Comments

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Some people in Thailand seem to live in far far history. What Mr. Hall is saying should fall under Freedom off speech & Freedom off Press. He/She who attempts to silence him should be scrutinezed him/herself. With current technolgy & social media silencing doesn't work anymore.

Posted by PhuketGreed on March 1, 2013 11:04

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I dont think they really want a high profile journalist activist in jail forming a prisoners rights an welfare group union and informing the world of the conditions and goings on there.

Posted by slickmelb on March 2, 2013 02:49


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