Thailand’s Military Coup A Headache For Migrant Workers

Migrant workers from Burma are finding that life has just become much more complicated following Thailand’s military coup on May 22, with the military closing border crossings and a nationwide curfew disrupting their travel.

Saw Ye Tun Zaw, a migrant worker in Bangkok, said that the curfew made getting home from work difficult and risky.

“There are more restrictions on [our] movement even though businesses are operating as normally following the military seizing power. The workers have to rush back to their places as soon as they finished their work in the evening. It is very difficult now to travel because of the curfew,” he said.

Military rule has hit the Thai-Burma border community hard too, according to local residents. People coming from Myawaddy to the Thai town of Mae Sot for work, are finding it difficult to travel now as they are no longer allowed to cross the Moei River which separates the two countries.

Ma Thidar, a Myawaddy resident told Karen News that migrant workers had been forced to swim back to Burma following the border closure.

“Two days after the Thai military coup a group of workers came back from a textile factory in Mae Sot in the evening after 5:00 pm and were forced to swim across the Moei River back to Burma by themselves as they were not allowed to access the boats.”

U Moe Kyo, the chairperson of Joint Action Committee for Burma Affairs (JACBA) said that closing the unofficial river crossings would have a direct impact on migrant workers.

“Most of the migrant workers in the border areas rely on the black routes [unofficial crossing points] through border checkpoints across the Moei River instead of the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge for the transportation. There will be more inconveniences if the Thai military continues to block the routes the underground checkpoints much longer.”

There are more than 30 unofficial checkpoints and crossings on the Moei River along the Thai-Burma border.

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