From the Tiger to the Crocodile; Abuse of Migrant Workers in Thailand
I am Burmese and a migrant worker that is why the police don't care about this case.... [M]y husband and I are only migrant workers and we have no rights here.
-Aye Aye Ma, from Burma, who was raped by two unknown Thai assailants after they shot and killed her husband on November 5, 2007, in Phang Nga province
As "Thailand" means the "land of the free," it is our Government's policy to ensure that migrants can enjoy their freedom and social welfare in Thailand while their human rights are duly respected.... [M]igrant workers, regardless of their legal status, can seek justice in Thailand's court system for any violent abuses to which they have been subjected, and which are covered by these laws.
-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, on October 5, 2009, Bangkok
The thousands of migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia, and Laos who cross the border into Thailand each year trade near-certain poverty at home for the possibility of relative prosperity abroad. While most of these bids for a better life do not end as tragically as that of Aye Aye Ma, almost all play out in an atmosphere circumscribed by fear, violence, abuse, corruption, intimidation, and an acute awareness of the many dangers posed by not belonging to Thai society.
From the moment they arrive in Thailand, many migrants face an existence straight out of a Thai proverb-escaping from the tiger, but then meeting the crocodile-that is commonly used to describe fleeing from one difficult or deadly situation into another that is equally bad, or sometimes worse. Migrant workers are effectively bonded to their employers and at risk of rights violations from government authorities. In many cases, police, military, and immigration officers, and other government officials threaten, physically harm, and extort migrant workers with impunity. Those detained face beatings and other abuses. And whether documented or undocumented, migrants in Thailand are especially vulnerable to abusive employers and common crime, which the Thai authorities are very reluctant to investigate and sometimes are complicit in.
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