Saw Hta, 31 is migrant living and working in in Phopra area. He is originally from Kawkreik Township in Karen State, Burma. Saw Hta left his home more than ten years ago and only visited his place of origin once. Saw Hta said that living as a migrant in Thailand had its advantages and disadvantages.
“On one hand, our livelihood and our access to services and infrastructure are much better than when we were in village. But in terms of rights and opportunities, we don’t have like people who are citizen of the country.”
Saw Hta is now a widower with two children, he explained his status living in Thailand.
“We have a 10 year resident card that allows us to live and move quite freely within the designated area. But there are many restrictions if we want to go out of the limited area. We can’t buy property with our name. We can’t have driving licenses with our status. There are problems of language and when it comes to legal issues. I’ve been arrested and fined quite often by the police for driving with licenses or traveling outside the limited area of my residency.”
Saw Hta explained why he left his home in Karen State.
“Our village was forced to relocate into the area close to the Burma army camp. There was fighting occurred quite often in the village and in area around the village. The Burma army fenced the village and restricted villagers leaving the village. Villagers couldn’t stay overnight outside the village – everyone leave the village only after 6am and must be back at 6pm. It was hard to make living in such situation, so I left.”
Saw Hta said there is no place like home.
“There is no place better than your own. One day, I hope I can go back and live in my village when the situation becomes stable. I grew up in my village and I still have vivid memory of it.”