Opposition leader Sam Rainsy sent a letter to Thailand’s ruling junta on Friday calling for the “tens of thousands” of Cambodian migrant workers forcibly repatriated since early June to be treated humanely.
In the letter addressed to General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who assumed power in a May 22 coup, Rainsy “begs” that the “safety and dignity of all Cambodians still living on Thai soil” be treated in step with international human rights standards.
“I can assure you that all those Cambodian workers only wish to work and to live quietly and peacefully in Thailand because living conditions in Cambodia are terribly bad for poor people like them. They are not involved in Thai politics and are not associated in any manner with any political group or party,” the letter reads.
Since June 1, thousands of Cambodian workers have been deported from Thailand.
Yem Ponharith, an opposition party spokesman, said yesterday that the government’s response to the deportations had been inadequate.
“[The] ruling party has not yet provided enough support.… We sent the letter to make sure the rights of our workers are better respected,” he said.
But ruling party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the military “is already doing enough to take care of them”.
“I don’t know why he [Rainsy] does this.… We’re already sending trucks to make sure they get home,” he said.
Political analyst Kem Ley commended Rainsy’s initiative.
“This is a conversation that should be had between the Cambodian and Thai government.… This should be about coalition building, not about individual political agendas,” Ley said.
“Where is Prime Minister Hun Sen’s letter to the Thai junta?”
But fellow analyst Chea Vannath said the letter was tantamount to political posturing. “This is yet another way that we are showing the world that Cambodia is divided,” she said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VONG SOKHENG