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Suu Kyi signs pact with Thai govt to protect migrant workers

'I recognise that we in Myanmar are responsible for our people here. I would never say that we are not responsible for what our citizens do. We will never disown them, we will never neglect them,' said Suu Kyi. Photograph: (Getty)

Reuters Bangkok, Thailand Jun 25, 2016, 08.14 AM (IST)
Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday met with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in Bangkok to discuss labour cooperation among other issues and to sign a pact aimed at protecting migrant workers.

Thailand is home to between two million and three million migrant workers from Myanmar, many of whom do back-breaking jobs most Thais are unwilling to do. Suu Kyi's visit has prompted renewed calls for better protection for the workers, many of who are undocumented and are vulnerable to abuse, rights groups say.

"I recognise that we in Myanmar are responsible for our people here. I would never say that we are not responsible for what our citizens do. We will never disown them, we will never neglect them. They will be our responsibility and we are proud to assume this responsibility," Suu Kyi said.

Suu Kyi added that a lot still needed to be done as Thailand plans to repatriate internally displaced persons (IDPs) back to Myanmar, highlighting that migrant workers 'need work' if they return to their home country permanently.

The three-day visit to Thailand is Suu Kyi's second official trip abroad since her National League for Democracy (NLD) party took office on March 30.

She is visiting in her official capacity as state counsellor, a position created for her, and as foreign minister.

The Thai junta has been jittery over the visit. A news conference in Bangkok on the plight of Myanmar's 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya minority ended abruptly on Thursday after the Thai authorities put pressure on the human rights groups which organised it.

Suu Kyi has been criticised overseas, and by some in Myanmar, for saying little about the abuses faced by the Rohingya, who live in apartheid-like conditions and are seen by many Myanmar Buddhists as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

(Reuters)
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