With 6 updates: Attacking migrants

14 06 2014

Military dictatorships are notorious for the impunity they enjoy and the excesses this permits. After all, no laws except their laws, no constitution, no “independent” agencies or media, and no opposition. Thailand’s current junta is no different from the variously nasty, savage and corrupt juntas of the past.

Often, too, military dictatorships will be jingoistic  and some will be simply racists. Thailand’s current junta is no different from the juntas of the past.

While we know that even elected regimes in Thailand haven’t had great policies towards the migrant workers who underpin many sectors of the Thai economy, PPT can’t recall the mass round-ups, threats, and rampant nationalism that has flowed since the military coup on 22 May. Many of these workers have already suffered disgusting exploitation and even slave-like conditions in some sectors. But now the military is expelling them. It has even taken to rounding them up at gunpoint and forcing them out.

PPT recognizes that some of these measures were being put into place many months ago. Even so, the current actions are despicable.

The Chiangrai Times reports that the military “has threatened to arrest and deport all illegal foreign workers, as border officials reported an exodus of Cambodian migrants following last month’s military takeover.” Again, PPT can’t help but wonder if the particular attention being given to Cambodians doesn’t reflect just jingoism but also the influence of the conspiratorial extremists in the anti-democratic movement who repeatedly shouted about armed Cambodians supporting red shirts. All of this was nonsense, but was taken up by some of the crazier military anti-democrats. There were other balmy claims of Cambodians joining protests, not unlike reprehensible claims made by a royalist Australian academic.

Army spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong has said that “any illegal migrant workers found” in the country “will be arrested and deported…”. These workers are now labeled “a threat…”.

More than 10,000 Cambodians have been scared by military actions and afraid of arrest, some have headed across the border, with many others being rounded up “transported in trucks and dumped at the border.

Updates 1 & 2: The Bangkok Post now reports that 70,000 Cambodians have been forced out. The junta spokesperson Patamaporn Rattanadilok Na Phuket – who has the same family name as a sexist, racist, xenophobic PAD and anti-democrat speaker – disingenuously claims “no crackdown on foreign workers had been ordered.” Yes, this seems to contradict earlier statements, and when we looked, this obvious story – see right – had been delinked by the Post.Post story It may come back up, and until it does, we can assume that it has been removed because it offends the dictators. [Update 3: we found the story we think the headline refers to.]

This spokesperson mumbled something about migrants fleeing and being trucked and dumped at the border “that because of the rumours,” and saying that “some businesses were concerned and sent the foreign workers back home.” This is the usual horse manure that flows from those with no law to control and guide them, and has been Army-speak for decades. She makes it even worse when she says “the harvest season had also begun, prompting some to return home to help their families.” Clearly the dictatorship’s spokesperson believes she speaks to a nation of morons.

Update 4: Well, maybe we didn’t find the story that went missing. Here’s another that might fit. It has a set of denials of any round up or threats to migrants by several spokespersons, including the Dictator himself. Then this:

Meanwhile, more than 900 undocumented Cambodian workers were rounded up while heading back to their country at Chong Jom border crossing in Surin on Thursday.

A checkpoint had been set up by the 2nd Army Region’s Suranaree Task Force, police and administrative officers along Highway 24 of Chokchai-Dej Udom in tambon Kang-an of Prasat district to conduct checks on people passing along the route. They apprehended hundreds of illegal Cambodian workers as they were travelling on buses from various provinces in the Central Plains and East to the border area in Kap Choeng district.

The detainees were briefly assembled at a petrol station near the checkpoint. About 900 of them were counted.

They were due to be sent to an Immigration Bureau office in Kap Choeng district for documentation before being repatriated through the O Samet border checkpoint to Udon Meechai province in Cambodia.

Someone’s lying, and all the evidence points to the military junta.

Update 5: Bangkok Pundit has an excellent rundown on the reports on this repatriation, now said to involve 100,000. That figure may be a little exaggerated, but the exodus and the fear expressed cannot be denied.

Update 6: The Nation is now reporting that more than 120,000 Cambodians have fled Thailand – in fact, its headline says 122,000. The story sates:

The mass exodus of labourers – who play a key role in Thai industries such as seafood and agriculture but often lack official work permits – comes amid a junta warning of arrest and deportation for illegal foreign workers.

While the situations are different and being aware of historical hyperbole, we are nonetheless sadly reminded of other militaristic and military-backed regimes that have organized campaigns of fear in seeking to expel foreigners while painting them as enemies.


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21 06 2014
Thailand’s shame | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] junta, the reports earlier by The Guardian on slavery on ships in the seafood industry, and the mammoth movement of fearful Cambodian migrant workers back home, probably now numbering close to […]

5 07 2014
Prayuth and the foreigners | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] just a misunderstanding or that the Cambodians were going home to plant rice. Very quickly, though, it became clear that not only was the crackdown on migrant workers a junta order, but that it was also in line with The Dictator’s view of foreigners as a major security […]

5 07 2014
Prayuth and the foreigners | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] just a misunderstanding or that the Cambodians were going home to plant rice. Very quickly, though, it became clear that not only was the crackdown on migrant workers a junta order, but that it was also in line with The Dictator’s view of foreigners as a major security threat […]

29 08 2014
Double standards as wide as an ocean | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] has wanted to provoke war with Cambodia and whose release from jail in Cambodia was prompted by the military dictatorship’s willingness to create a crisis by sending Cambodian workers streaming back home in a fear campaign that was for […]

13 03 2017
Anti-democrat splinters | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] sought to provoke a war with Cambodia and whose release from jail in Cambodia was prompted by the military dictatorship’s willingness to create a crisis by sending Cambodian workers streaming back home in a fear campaign that was for […]

13 03 2017
Anti-democrat splinters | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] sought to provoke a war with Cambodia and whose release from jail in Cambodia was prompted by the military dictatorship’s willingness to create a crisis by sending Cambodian workers streaming back home in a fear campaign that was for […]

6 07 2017
When the military is on top IX | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] At the time, the official attacks on migrants that resulted saw hundreds of thousands heading for the borders or being arrested and thrown across borders. PPT then stated: […]

6 07 2017
When the military is on top IX | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] At the time, the official attacks on migrants that resulted saw hundreds of thousands heading for the borders or being arrested and thrown across borders. PPT then stated: […]




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