Thailand Deports Burmese Volunteer Teachers

The three teachers were working with migrant children in a monastery.


Monday, August 27, 2018

Thai authorities deported three Burmese volunteer teachers on Friday whose labor documentation did not match the roles in which they were working.

The teachers—Than Than Myine, Nyein Moe Moe Hlaing, and Htein Lin Aung—were instructors in Wat Lam Nap monastery in Pattani, southern Thailand, working with the children of Burmese migrant workers. On the morning of August 15, they were arrested in class by Thai authorities who said that they did not have work permits to be volunteering at the school, which enrolls about 80 children between the ages of four and 15.

“Thai officers from immigration, the education department, the army, and the tourist police inspected the monastery at around 10 a.m. Then the Thai authorities arrested [them],” Min Oo, a member of the Foundation for Education and Development in Phan Nga, Thailand, told NMG.

Each of the three teachers was charged with violating the immigration law. They were fined 5,000 baht (US$153) each and sent back to Burma through the Thai border town of Ranong to Kawthaung, in Tanintharyi Region.

“Ma Nyein Moe Hlaing’s job was a painter on boat and Daw Than Than Myine was a laborer at a squid factory, but they worked as volunteer teachers at a monastery. Ko Htein Lin Aung had a tourist visa. Their present jobs and their official titles job on their labor cards were different,” Min Oo explained.

The abbot of the Wan Lam Nap monastery said he worried that the teachers had been “informed on,” and hoped that they would return with legal documents.

“I heard someone informed the police, but I don’t know who it was. Many Myanmar people visit this monastery. Nobody should inform on them to immigration,” he said.

A visiting Burmese monk—whose layman’s name is San Maung—was also reportedly arrested by Thai authorities during the raid.

Thai migrant rights group the Human Rights and Development Foundation, as well as the Migrant Working Group, released a statement on August 20, calling for the release of the teachers, who were deported four days later.