Defamation Trial Begins for Abused Myanmar Workers in Thailand

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The defamation trial of 14 migrant workers from Myanmar who spoke out about labor abuses on a Thai poultry farm began this Wednesday in Bangkok. Observers say this case is an effort to silence whistleblowers.

The migrant workers went to the national human rights commission back in 2016 to file a complaint against Thammakaset, the company that owns the poultry farm they worked at in Lopburi province. They reported that they were subjected to harsh living conditions and labor exploitation.

Thammakaset, in retaliation, sued the workers for criminal defamation and giving false information to public officials — crimes that carry jail terms of up to 1.5 years.

The Straits Times reports:

The labourers said they were forced to work gruelling 20 hour days without compensation for overtime among other abuses on the farm owned by Thammakaset, a company that supplied meat to the Thai food conglomerate Betagro.

Betagro, a food giant that sells to clients around the globe, later cut ties with the supplier farm.

“The workers just filed a complaint because they thought their rights were violated and asked for an independent body to investigate,” defence lawyer Nakhon Chomphuchat told AFP ahead of the hearing.

“This case shouldn’t happen,” he added.

Millions of migrant workers come to Thailand from neighboring countries — primarily Myanmar — to work aboard fishing vessels and in farms and factories.

Thailand does not allow migrant workers to form trade unions, however, and those who do speak out against abuses are often fired or prosecuted under defamation laws.

Human rights groups said this was a clear case of employers retaliating against workers who spoke up.

“These types of cases are all too common in Thailand. They’re a mark of the high costs paid by whistle-blowers and truth-tellers for simply exercising their right,” said Amy Smith from Fortify Rights.

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stella moonMargret EggerrK OBriemMirta Lidia YantornoDana Sang Recent comment authors
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stella moon
stella moon

These people are very brave and are to be admired. They are just and right and deserve to be met with a complimentry response and attitude.There is no justice in disregard for another living soul.

Margret Eggerr
Margret Eggerr

Do not violate Human Rights for anybody, including Myanmar refugee people you employ show more respect so we can have pride in you.

K OBriem
K OBriem

Being denied the right to belong to or form trade unions is a violation of article 23 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Mirta Lidia Yantorno
Mirta Lidia Yantorno

Es lamentable y penoso que los poderoso sigan usando a los más pobres y necesitados,como esclavos,sólo los mueve lo material, lo efímero.Pero todo vuelve,en otros tiempos serán esos mismos poderoso los que pidan ayuda y tal vez encuentren como resultado la esclavitud que fueron sembrando.

Dana Sang
Dana Sang

Hoping your group is listened to because working for 20 hours is very harmful to health and wellbeing plus added on abuses, not a safe working environment at all.