On 16 August 2012, the Mekong Migration Network and the Asian Migrant Centre co-hosted the launch of the book, From Our Eyes: Mekong Migrant Reflections: 2000 – 2012, at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand ( FCCT) in Bangkok.
Guests at the launch included representatives from the Thai Ministry of Labour, the Malaysian Embassy, the media, IOM, ILO, UNDP and civil society.
From Our Eyes is a collection of diverse personal stories, insight and analysis from 15 migrants, on their lives over the past 12 years. The book includes experiences of migrants from various Mekong countries, and industries including fisheries, sex work, factories, construction, mining and domestic work. Important perspectives are conveyed on the practical impact of migrant-related policies, with the hope of countering a general lack of recognition of migrant voices in public forums.
Speakers on the panel at the launch were migrants Sai Porn Sak, In Ry and Ko Ba Din. Ko Ba Din is a worker from Burma who has been a worker-in-charge on quarry sites in Thailand. He spoke of the very dangerous conditions for those in his industry, and the absence of any occupational health and safety training or protection. When asked how many people had died at work, he said there were too many to count, and for most of them who were undocumented, they had been buried without ceremony at the quarry site.
In Ry is an 81-year-old woman from Cambodia. She migrated to try to support her family, however she said since she is very old she could not find any work except begging for money. She has been arrested, detained and deported on numerous occasions, but always returns to Thailand by herself in order to earn money and survive. She felt that she was lucky not to be beaten when she was in detention, but noted that the food was not impressive.
Sai Porn Sak is a Shan construction worker who has worked for many years in the north of Thailand, and is a founding member of the Workers Solidarity Association. When asked about what the Burmese migrant community expects from the new Government in Myanmar, he suggested that the eight Nationality Verification Centres in Thailand, be transformed into long-term Migrant Support Centres. His proposal is that these centres should provide paralegal counselling and legal assistance to migrants in all cases of labour exploitation and other types of abuse.
The launch concluded with the hope that all future policy development will include migrant participation, and will be truly “From Our Eyes.”
For further information about the book or the panellists, please contact:
Thai: Omsin (Plaii) Boonlert (Mekong Migration Network, firstname.lastname@example.org, ph 086 923 8313)
English: Jessica Marsh (Mekong Migration Network, email@example.com, ph 086 416 8280)