Aung San Suu Kyi diaspora visit tightly controlled by Thai junta

The visit to Thailand by Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi was held under tight control by Bangkok's military government on Thursday.

Suu Kyi, in her first visit to Thailand since taking power in November, was due to meet with workers at the Mahachai port in Samut Sakhon province, where she was expected to hear concerns from members of the million-strong Myanmar diaspora that forms a significant part of Thailand's manual labour force. 

The Thai military junta however forbade access to tens of thousands of workers that had made their way to see her and only allowed several hundred pre-approved workers into the venue. 

The rest were stuck in the rain outside hoping to catch a glimpse of their hero as Thai police escorted her into the venue. 

"There are thousands waiting outside but the government only let in several hundred workers from nearby factories," said Andy Hall of the Migrant Workers Rights Network. "This is ridiculous."

In Bangkok, the military also shut down a panel at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand which was holding an event to discuss the treatment of the Rohingya, an ethnic-Muslim minority in Myanmar that faces discrimination.

The Myanmar government's treatment of Rohingya's has been a concern for human rights defenders and a point of criticism directed at the Suu Kyi government, which has refused to even refer to the Rohingya by their self-designation, but instead chooses to call them the Muslim-population in Rakhine state. 

Suu Kyi will meet with Prayut Chan-ocha, the head of Thailand's military government, on Friday to discuss bilateral ties and the working conditions of migrant workers.

The trip marks Suu Kyi's first visit to Thailand since her National League for Democracy party won Myanmar's historic election in November, completing the transition to a civilian government.

Suu Kyi is Myanmar's State Counsellor, a position she created after being constitutionally barred from serving as the country's president. She has said her position is "above the president." 

Last update: Thu, 23/06/2016 - 13:46

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