Monday, June 8, 2009

Mae Sot Workers Hungry for Suu Kyi News

The Irrawaddy News

MAE SOT — Factory workers along the Thai-Burma border are simmering with anger over the ongoing trial of Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

News of the trial has quickly spread through the factories and ignited quiet outrage amongst the workers. For many of the migrant workers, the Burmese government is to blame for the financial misery which has led them here to the factory floor. Their only hope for being able to return home is the release of Suu Kyi who could now face a further five years imprisonment.

"I am so angry, now we are working like slaves in another country," said a knitter in his early 20s in a textile factory. "If she is released, then she will be able to sort out all our country's problems, and I can go home to my family."

The workers are shocked by the news coming out of Burma but hardly surprised.

"I knew she was due for release soon so I expected the SPDC would do something," said another worker from Pegu. "I am angry but because I am a migrant worker I feel so helpless."

With so many counting on her, the present trial is a great concern for all the migrant workers who anticipate the day they can live and work in Burma.

Relieved from their eleven-hour shifts twice a day, most of the workers catch up on the news during their breaks.

In one knitting factory, workers watch the Democratic Voice of Burma TV in the canteen during lunch. Many of the factories have TVs, but they are often muted or playing Burma's state channel—MRTV.

In the factories that don't have TVs, the workers go to the tea shops in the factory compounds and get updates from the radio.

Most workers don't listen to exiled media radio stations such as the BBC or RFA. Workers are attracted to the "good pop music" on Padauk Myay, a government-owned radio station in Rangoon. Airing at 5:30 am till 8 am, it is convenient for workers to listen to as they prepare for work.

Mae Sot-based organizations suspect it was designed to interfere with exiled media agencies' programs. Radio listeners in Rangoon have reported Padauk Mayay radio interrupting BBC news programs and temporarily taking over the frequency.

Like all media in Burma the radio stations adhere to the junta's policy. Although it has reported the Suu Kyi trial, a lot of the details are left out so workers must rely on colleagues who listen to international news for the whole story.

"Not every worker has access to international news," said one worker. "Some of the workers who know the whole picture have been informing their colleagues who listen to the government radio stations."

For the latest information many of the workers rely on the handful of organizations that were set up to improve the working and living conditions for migrant workers.

The Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association publishes a monthly magazine that is popular amongst the migrant community, and it has become a source that informs the workers about issues relating to Burma.

Similarly, the Overseas Irrawaddy Association looks after all migrant workers who come from the Irrawaddy delta region. Many of the factory workers frequent the office to get regular updates about the trial. The chairman, Saya Pu, once a student activist, also worked in factories before setting up the organization.

"I set up the organization not for my living but to tell the workers about human rights and democracy," said Saya Pu. "I push them all to read the news as much as they can."

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too