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Published on Friday, 09 November 2012 17:47
Photo - Myanmar migrate workers seen in October
Middlemen in southeastern bordering town of Myawady are forcing migrant workers sent back by Thai authorities to pay them a hefty amount of money.
Scores of the Myanmar workers are arrested and sent back every week for not having necessary documents and work permission.
While in Myanmar, they have to pay 20 baht (US$0.65) to the local authorities. But the middlemen force them to pay them large amount money, according to returnee workers.
Myit Thu, a Kayin man who worked in Thailand’s Maha Chai for one year, said he saw the middlemen forcing workers to pay up to 3,500 baht.
“The workers who do not have temporary passport are sent back to the gate in Myanmar side. We have to pay 100 baht for our bags and the people who didn’t pay the brokers earlier have to pay 1,600 baht.”
About one third of the arrested workers do not afford to pay money, he said.
“I came here with the help of an agent. I was told I’ll get temporary passport. I gave 250,000 kyats ($294) to the agent. After waiting for over three months in Myawady, I had no more money with me and had no choice but to go illegally,” said a Yathaedong resident who was arrested in Thailand.
While detained in a two-storey detention centre in Mae Sot for three days, he was not given any food because he had no money with him, he alleged.
“I was later taken to Taungyin River bank. I crossed it by a boat. In Myanmar, I was taken to a warehouse by middlemen. We can’t leave the place if we fail to pay them the money they demand.”
To protect workers from such middlemen, Thailand and Myanmar governments allowed those who crossed into Thailand during the flood to return legally using the bridge in October last year.
After a respite in the illegal practice, the middlemen are active again, according returnee workers.