On June 1 and 2 officials from the Tak Province Joint Special Police conducted raids on garment factories, construction sites and other work sites in Mae Sot.
U Moe Gyo, chair of the Joint Action Committee for Burmese Affairs, said that the arrests were part of a special scheme by the Thai Labor Ministry to eradicate child labor and other forms of illegal labor.
“Around 100 people were arrested today [June 2]. They are workers from factories, workshops, construction and general workers from Mae Pa, Mae Kasa, and Mae Ku sub-districts. Around 200 people were arrested yesterday [June 1],” he said.
Two deputy directors from the Thai Ministry of Labor visited Mae Sot on May 18 to meet with Myanmar labor attache U Aung Ko Than and workers’ rights activists to inquire about child workers and undocumented workers in the Mae Sot area. The arrests were made after that visit, according to U Moe Gyo.
Most of the factories and workshops have been closed in Mae Sot area due to the recent crackdown and undocumented workers have fled to relatives’ houses, monasteries, farmlands and forest near the Myawady border, according to Mae Sot-based workers’ rights activists.
The employers and managers have been trying to assist workers who were arrested.
“There were 197 people at the jail up to last night. Some of [the detainees] are being interrogated by police in the Mae Pa area. As far as we known, 11 child workers have been arrested but I heard that there are up to 18 child workers in total,” said Ko Moe Kyaw, an officer from Yaung Chi Oo Workers’ Association.
According to Thai authorities, the detainees will be released after paying fines.
Over 400,000 Myanmar migrant workers working in the nine districts of Tak Province, with at least 200,000 employed in Mae Sot District alone. The majority of the workers are employed in agriculture, livestock breeding and manufacturing, according to labor rights activists. By KIK.