Dear Friends, We are a group of international human rights students from Mahidol University, Thailand. As such, we have expectations that human rights standards will be upheld in Thailand. Unfortunately, we are witnessing gross violations of the human rights of migrant workers in Thailand by Thai authorities. In December 2006, the local government in the province of Phuket, issued the Provincial Decree on Migrant Workers from Burma, Cambodia and Lao. This move was followed by administrations in three other provinces: Ranong, Rayong and Pang-nga in early 2007. Surat Thani, Krabi and Chiang Mai provincial administrations have adopted similar practices although have not formalized them in a decree. More and more provinces are planning to impose the Decree, particularly in southern regions. These policies and practices are racist, discriminatory and openly promote inhumane treatment of individuals residing in Thailand. We appeal to you for your support in advocating for the immediate withdrawal of the Provincial Decrees and for no further expansion of this policy into other States. Substance and Justification of the Provincial Decrees Under the Decrees, migrant workers are not allowed to use mobile phones, ride motorbikes, or leave the worksite at night between the hours of 8:00pm and 6:00am. Further, a ban has been placed on assemblies of more than five persons. The premise of the Decrees is that migrant workers are troublemakers, and their presence deteriorates harmony in Thai society. Some regions have said that their proximity to the border means they must put controls on migrants. Others have said that large tourism industries means they must control migrants. No factual evidence for the risks posed by migrants or the positive impact of the Decrees is given. Indeed, the reported rate of crimes committed by migrants is below 5%. Clearly, the Decrees are populist attempts to build up scapegoating of outsiders through racism and bigotry. This should not be supported in a modern democratic society. Rights Violated by the Provincial Decrees These Provincial Decrees violate the following basic human rights, among others: Right to freedom of movement and rights to health: forbidding migrants to go outside from their home/living space between 8:00pm to 6:00am is akin to arbitrary detention. It also exposes migrants to abuse if they are not allowed to leave dangerous situations without risking arrest. Even migrants who are sick will not be able to seek medical assistance during these hours or they could be arrested. Right to freedom from discrimination: the Decrees have been applied on an absolutely discriminatory basis
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