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As Thailand Exodus Continues, Worries of Abuse Rise

  • Heng Reaksmey
  • VOA Khmer

Border officials say more and more Cambodians are leaving Thailand each day, either of their own will or under duress.

Border officials say more and more Cambodians are leaving Thailand each day, either of their own will or under duress.

Human rights workers and members of the opposition party say they are concerned about the transport of Cambodian workers out of Thailand, as thousands continue to flee the country in the wake of a military coup last month.

Border officials say more and more Cambodians are leaving Thailand each day, either of their own will or under duress.

Many of them are being shipped out by Thai security forces in crowded trucks, rights workers say.

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 21 local NGOs, issued a statement Thursday calling on the Thai government to “humanely treat Cambodian migrant workers.”

“[The committee] deplores the decision of the Thai junta to deport Cambodian migrants en masse and demands that their deportation is carried out in a manner which respects their human rights,” the coalition said.

The committee estimates that about 40,000 Cambodian workers from Thailand either have fled the country themselves or have been “forcibly removed” by Thai authorities since June 1.

The rights group Adhoc says it has received credible reports that as many as nine Cambodians have been killed in Thailand in that time and that others have been beaten by Thai security forces.

“Many Cambodian workers are now stranded at the border without enough money to get them home,” the Human Rights Action Committee said.

The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday denied as “groundless” all claims that a forced repatriation is under way.

Sam Rainsy, president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, told reporters Thursday he will write a letter to the Thai junta urging them to respect Cambodians in their country.

He also lambasted the Cambodian government for failing to provide jobs and forcing people to seek illegal work abroad in countries like Thailand.

Nim Sam Ath, a 50-year-old villager from Kampong Speu province who worked construction in Thailand, said he fled recently for fear of arrest. Many Cambodians were doing the same, he said. But some Cambodian workers remain in detention, unable to pay money for their release, he said.
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