Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Burmese Authorities Crack Down on Human Trafficking

By Saw Yan Naing
June 25, 2007

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A Burmese man was arrested for human trafficking o­n Sunday involving 200 Burmese migrant workers as part of the government’s anti-human trafficking operation in Kawthaung in southern Burma opposite Thailand’s Ranong Province.

The man was identified as Kyaw Win. No other details were available.

The crackdown, led by Brig-Gen Zaw Thein Myint of Military Operation Command, began last weekend with the cooperation of local police, Maung Tu, a resident in Kawthaung. told The Irrawaddy.

“The crackdown is still going o­n," he said. "The order came from Naypyitaw [Burma’s new capital]. They cracked down o­n the local resort and hotel as well.

“They [200 Burmese migrant workers] planned to leave from Kawthaung in early morning, but they were arrested when troops raided the resorts and hotels last night.” Maung Tu said that around 500 Burmese migrant workers cross the border everyday from Kawthaung to Thailand’s Ranong Province. Due to the crackdown, boat and ferry crossings have slowed, according to local sources.

Another Ranong resident said, “The [Burmese] government has lunched anti-trafficking campaigns yearly, but they're not really effective.” However, he said, “If they continue their crackdowns like this in the future, it would be effective. But we need to wait and see.”

The Burmese government has launched yearly anti-human trafficking crackdowns in Kawthaung since 2005. More than 400 people involved in human trafficking in Burma have been arrested, according to reports.

A US State Department report, “Trafficking in Persons," released o­n June 13 said the military government has not done enough to stop the flow of human trafficking, particularly of women and children.

The report said an increasing number of ethnic Burmese girls and women have been leaving Burma in hope of finding work. Children also have been trafficked to neighboring countries for sexual exploitation, forced labor and as indentured street beggars, according to the report.

In addition, Malaysian authorities o­n Sunday found two Burmese women in the trunk of a car at a northern Malaysian border checkpoint. The driver of the car, a Thai police officer, was arrested, the Bangkok Post, an English language newspaper, reported o­n Monday.

The International Labor Organization's deputy regional director, Guy Thijs, recently told The Nation newspaper in Bangkok that many child workers are trapped in Thailand by human traffickers.

In December, Border patrol police in Tak found 41 Burmese men and women in the tank of an oil transport trailer without fresh air as they were being transported from Mae Sot to Bangkok.

Last year, about 740000 migrant workers from Burma registered with the Department of Employment in Thailand. Many more Burmese migrants are working illegally. About 70,000 Laotian and Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand are now registered with Thai authorities. An estimated 1 million Burmese migrant workers are working in Thailand.


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