About 10,000 Cambodian migrant workers have streamed across the Poipet border checkpoint into Banteay Meanchey province over the past three days after being forced from Thailand by the country’s military, which has overthrown the Thai government and declared martial law.
Since Sunday, the Thai authorities have been depositing truckloads of Cambodian workers at the border, forcing the authorities here to scramble to put together makeshift accommodation for them, according to Poipet City Governor Ngor Mengchruon.
“It is the first time that Thai soldiers have sent back our workers, and it is much more than usual, about 10,000” he said by telephone Tuesday.
“We have set up camps for them to stay in that include water supplies and toilets and we are trying to help them find vans, buses and cars that will take them back to their homes at a reasonable price,” he added.
Soum Chankea, a provincial coordinator with rights group Adhoc, said the Thai authorities have been conducting searches at factories, swiftly arresting Cambodian citizens and banishing them to the border—and are not accepting applications for working documents.
Even legal workers have reported having their documents destroyed by soldiers.
“In Thailand there is a military coup, so our illegal migrant workers are being kicked, beaten and shot at, because the Thais are using martial law,” he said.
He said he has received reports of some workers who have gone into hiding in Thailand because they fear arrest.
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