August 19, 2016

A soothing voice from a motherly woman

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited Thailand from 23 to 25 June with the aim of seeking ways to deal with the rights of millions of Myanmar migrant workers and create new levels of cooperation between the two neighbours through the long-standing relationship.
During her highest profile overseas trip, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met Thailand’s Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss issues related to refugee repatriation and promotion of bilateral cooperation in labour and development. Her three-day visit saw the signing of memoranda of understanding on border crossing, employment of workers and labour cooperation between the two countries.
Statistics show that fightings between the army and ethnic armed groups have displaced more than 100,000 Myanmar refugees to Thailand over the past 30 years. In addition, a majority of Myanmar migrant workers are employed in the seafood industry, with more than 100,000 in Samut Sakhon alone, the seat of Thailand’s giant seafood industry. Fisheries businesses in that area are notorious for its abuse and ignorance of labour rights and the practice of indentured labour.
During her visit, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was briefed on the plights of Myanmar migrant workers, including the alleged murders.
The state counsellor urged officials of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok and labour rights groups to render necessary assistance to their compatriots in need and make sure that they have easy access to full legal protection against labour abuses.
Words from the motherly national figure will not only soothe but also energise the migrant workers and refugees in Thailand who have felt stranded and neglected by successive governments. What is immediately striking in her visit is that the prime minister of Thailand has agreed to set up emergency hotlines that Myanmar migrant workers can call in need of help.


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