From Myanmar to Thailand

Myanmar to Thailand

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Anxieties about' stateless' Myanmar labourers in Thailand threatening as a time limit

According to Thai legislation adopted last year, migrants have until Saturday to apply for a work visa with an identity card from their home state. However, Myanmar's Buddhist Muslims face great documentary challenge, said Kyaw Win, managing secretary of the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) lobby group, which uses the former name for the state.

"These are the men who escaped Myanmar to avoid prosecution and civilian wars. They may have to go back to Myanmar after June 30 if they cannot reside in Thailand, where they are subject to harassment and imprisonment," said Win, who surveyed Moslem migrants. Myanmar's Interior Department did not immediately react to an e-mail asking for comments.

Ever since taking office following a military coup in 2014, Thailand's governing regime has taken action to control immigrant labour, including on the basis of accounts that irregular labourers have been exploited by landlords. According to the International Organization for Migration, Thailand has more than 3 million migrants, although the right groups estimate the number higher, as many of them are not documented.

Surprisingly, since the announcement of labor legislation, ten thousand immigrant laborers from Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos have escaped from Thailand, said migrants. Myanmar's Muslims who stay in Thailand without ID will face penalties ranging from 2,000 to 100,000 Bahts ($60 to $3,000), five years in jail or deported and a two-year suspension on reapplying for a work visa.

BHRN's poll of Myanmar Muslims in the Thai frontier city of Mae Sot found that almost 80 per cent never received nationality ID. According to their poll, two out of three people refused their requests for IDs. "It' s funny that a bill designed to provide protection for migrants could hurt them more," he said.

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