Ma Ba Tha leads protest over alleged rape in Thailand

    Anger is growing over the rape of a Myanmar migrant worker, allegedly by Thai men, as monks and other activists demand action on the part of both the Thai and Myanmar governments.

    By Aung Kyaw Min   |   Thursday, 18 June 2015

    On June 16, the Myanmar Monks’ Organisation and the Myanmar National Youth Network staged a protest at Bo Sein Hman Stadium in Bahan township, Yangon, demanding action under the law.

    The 19-year-old migrant worker, from Bogale township, Ayeyarwady Region, was attacked on her way home from the night shift after leaving her factory, in Mahachai province, Thailand, in the early hours of June 3. It is alleged that six Thai men raped her by the roadside. Two men have now been arrested and the victim has received hospital treatment.

    “Sayadaw U Wai Nika, the chair of Tarmwe Ma Ba Tha, has already raised this case while preaching in Thailand. This is not the first time that Myanmar migrant workers have been abused and suffered violations of their human rights in Thailand. We will write to the Thai embassy demanding protection for our migrant workers,” said protest leader Magwe Monastery sayadaw U Parmaukkha.

    Ma Ba Tha is the Myanmar-language acronym of the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion, a conservative Buddhist nationalist group.

    The Myanmar Monks Organisation is mostly made up of Ma Ba Tha members.

    Protesters bore placards accusing the Thai government and people of ignoring human rights abuses and failing to uphold human dignity, and shouted slogans condemning the abuse of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand. They demanded the Thai government take action.

    “I call on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make representations to Thailand concerning the sufferings of Myanmar migrant workers there,” said protester U Aung Myine, a religious affairs activist. “The government has a responsibility to act. If this happens again, we will take our protest to the embassy.”

    At the Thai embassy in Yangon, first secretary Pornpun Pupiangjai met with the protesters and accepted their letter, which warned that the abuse of Myanmar women could harm the friendship between the two Buddhist countries. The letter stated that such abuse had continued for too long, and that it was the responsibility of the Thai government to take action.

    The protesters said their future action would depend on the embassy’s response.

    The Thai embassy in Yangon could not be reached for comment yesterday.

    Translation by Thiri Min Htun