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Burmese migrant workers required to have passport after receiving TR.38/1

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Minn Lyon – All of Thailand’s foreign migrant workers, including Burmese migrant workers, are required to hold a temporary passport, after receiving temporary residential status, Tor Ror 38/1 (TR. 38/1), according to an announcement by Thailand’s military government, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

The NCPO’s plan to issue TR 38/1 for the country’s migrant workers is the same plan that the former Thaksin Shinawatra government launched in 2003-2004. Migrant workers are required to have a medical check in order to be granted work permits and, according to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), migrant workers must then apply for a temporary passport and legal status as migrant workers, with which they will be allowed travel between Thai provinces, as well as between Thailand and Burma.

“There are lots of illegal migrant workers in Samut Sakhon province,” says Ko Khaing, a Burmese citizen living in Thailand, “Those people (illegal migrant workers) have to hide, and then there come the gangs of human traffickers and smugglers to make profits from them. And, when the international [human rights] groups release reports [about human trafficking], [the] Thai government will be blamed and lose dignity. To end such activities [such as human trafficking], now the Thai government is doing this.”

Ko Khaing states that beyond Samut Sakhon province, one-stop service centers issuing TR 38/1 also open in other provinces throughout Thailand. Ko Khaing relates that the Thai government has launched this initiative to preserve its dignity, and to assure that migrant workers are holding legal documents.
To apply for TR 38/1, applicants must obtain either two-months of health insurance, for 500 baht, or one-year of health insurance, for 1300 baht.

Migrant workers are required to hold work permits and temporary passports within two months, or 60 days, of receiving the TR 38/1. According to Thai law, if migrant workers have not received either of these documents by the expiration of their TR 38/1, violators will be arrested.

“Until this moment, the Burmese embassy [in Thailand] has not released [any statement] yet. What they [Thai government] issue for us is only valid for two months. So, there might be change[s] after two months,” said Ko Kyaw Thiha, an advocate for Burmese migrant issues.

The Thai military government has announced that migrant workers are required to re-new their TR 38/1 and work permits within 60 days; however, the Burmese embassy has not announced any information as to how Burmese migrant workers may renew their permits. Burmese migrant workers are voicing their concern that they do not know what is required of them, nor what will happen to them if they cannot receive a temporary passport within 60 days.

Last Monday in Samut Sakhon province, the NCPO launched Thailand’s first one-stop service center in for Burmese, Cambodian, and Laotian migrant workers illegally staying in Thailand to register for TR 38/1 and work permits. The center is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

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