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Male Burmese in a cell today: About 10 women were also arrested

Illegal Burmese Arrested, Phuket Deadline Passes

Thursday, September 3, 2009
ABOUT 40 illegal Burmese and Nepalese laborers are likely to be trucked to Ranong Immigration Centre from Phuket today after having been arrested in a raid in Karon about midnight.

Coincidentally, the island's Commerce Office has announced that the minimum wage on Phuket is to rise from 197 baht to 206 baht a day from October 1.

Immigration officials conducted last night's raid on a shanty camp near Karon Plaza, on the beachfront. Some of the Burmese are believed to have been working as tourist vendors, others in construction.

The crackdown two days after the expiry of a September 1 deadline appears to mark the end of a campaign to have thousands of illegal workers register as part of a new scheme.

The campaign did not meet its targets. Although about 90,000 legal and illegal Burmese workers are believed to be employed on the island, only 30,000 registered.

Suspicion of the motives of officials in Thailand and Burma and the relatively high cost and complexity of registration appear to be the reasons for the failure to achieve the result that officials had hoped.

Treatment of Burmese in Thailand remains a fraught debate. Officials are concerned at the cost the nation has to bear in health and welfare but Thai developers demand the cheap labor that Burmese provide.

Registration and a fee would have helped to compensate for on-costs met by the state.

With human rights likely to be high on the agenda when 16 national leaders meet for an Asean summit in Thailand in October, Thailand's recent performance remains open to question.

The horrifying covert ''pushbacks'' of Rohingya boat people, orchestrated by the Thai Army in December and January, led to hundreds of deaths and were followed last month by the revelation that ''saved'' boat people were being maltreated.

Two young boat people died in custody in Ranong and survivors had to be evacuated to better conditions in Bangkok.

Now the Governor of Ranong, Vanchat Wongchaichana, is reported to be planning to close about a dozen unofficial Burmese creche schools and repatriate the students.

Surapong Kongchantuk of the Lawyers Council of Thailand says: ''All countries around the world give importance and protection for children under 10.

''The province's plan to repatriate children going to these centres is probably against international policies. It could backfire on Thailand.''

Phuketwan visited one of these illegal schools in Ranong earlier this year and found it to be teaching children English to a higher standard than similar Thai schools.

From Ranong on down through Phang Nga to Phuket, the entire Andaman holiday coast relies on Burmese to perform menial tasks of all kinds, from maids and nannies to fishing trawlers and processing plants, plantation work and construction of five-star resorts.

If there was a similar crackdown on Phuket on illegal Burmese working as vendors and in other roles in Patong, the island's economy would be seriously affected.

Meanwhile, an anxious watch is beginning on the Andaman Sea for the first Rohingya boat people of the new sailing season. The pioneers among them might even arrive just in time for the human rights discussions at the Asean summit.

Pushbacks Exposed: Andaman Story of The Year
Behind the Front Page The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand magazine reports on how Phuketwan reporters revealed the Army's coverup of the horrifying boat people pushbacks.
Pushbacks Exposed: Andaman Story of The Year

Human Rights a Key Issue for Asean in Hua Hin
Opinion/Analysis The treatment of the Rohingya by Thailand raises fresh questions about the country's attitude to human rights as Asean leaders get set to meet in Cha AmHua Hin
Human Rights a Key Issue for Asean in Hua Hin

'Withered' Rohingya Rescued from Ranong
Latest Rohingya boatpeople have been evacuated from Ranong Immigration detention centre. A doctor says conditions there were so bad that two men died and more were endangered.
'Withered' Rohingya Rescued from Ranong

Rohingha Deaths in Custody: Human Rights Blow
Photo Album Rohingya boatpeople are moved from Ranong after a second death in custody and failing health spotlight the official secrecy that surrounds issues of basic human rights.
Rohingha Deaths in Custody: Human Rights Blow

Aid Groups Alarmed at Isolation of Rohingyas
Latest Two aid groups are alarmed because they have been denied access to a group of Rohingya boat people for six months. One has died, raising concerns about survivors.
Aid Groups Alarmed at Isolation of Rohingyas

Teenager's Death Highlights Plight of Rohingya
Latest Still stateless, the fate of a group of Rohingya boat people remains uncertain on the eve of human rights talks on Phuket. One has died, others seek escape.
Teenager's Death Highlights Plight of Rohingya

Burmese 'Passports' Mark New Phuket Deal
Latest More than 90,000 lowly workers on Phuket will have the chance to legitimise their labor under a proposal discuss at high level bilateral talks on Saturday
Burmese 'Passports' Mark New Phuket Deal

Phuket's Burma Workers in Mass Registration
Latest A revolutionary scheme to legitimise Burmese labor is now going into action. The result should be a more sensible and stable policy towards Burmese workers.
Phuket's Burma Workers in Mass Registration

Human Trafficking: Suffocation, or Solution?
LatestDesperation drives Rohingya, Burmese and others into the hands of human traffickers, putting their lives on the line. The Bali Process this week may provide answers that Thailand needs.
Human Trafficking: Suffocation, or Solution?

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Sunday July 5, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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