The goal of the Treat Them Like A Tourist Campaign is to request Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to amend the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 and provide working recommendations on the procedures. The Immigration Act B.E. 2522 should add the article to allow, “seeking temporary asylum”. This would apply to refugees.
Why should this be important to you?
The administration of refugees affects your tax money. Instead of using our tax money, refugees could provide great economic value to the country they are staying in, like a tourist.
Who is a refugee?
The 1951 Refugee Convention establishing UNHCR spells out that a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
A refugee is not equal to migrant worker.
A migrant worker must leave his country to seek economic opportunity, as there may be no way for him make a living and survive in his own country. But for a refugee it is necessary to leave her country, as she cannot rely on protection from her own government. She has no choice as she may lose her home, family, or even her life.
Where do refugees in Thailand come from? And Why?
In addition to the refugees who live along the border, there are many refugees living in Bangkok in communities that usually keep to themselves. Many refugees living in Thailand have escaped from countries like the Congo of Pakistan for religious reasons, or Syria due to the ongoing civil war.
Many refugees can make a living in Thailand using talents and professional experience from their home country and can contribute to society. They are very much like tourists who can work and travel in Thailand. The came to Thailand seeking temporary shelter and to and undertake the process of seeking asylum with the United Nations, so they can be resettled in third countries in Europe, or the United States or Australia. They do not intend on staying in Thailand forever, rather only while the United Nations considers their refugee claim. All refugees want is to rebuild their lives in a safe country.
Why amend the Immigration Act B.E 2522?
The Immigration Act B.E. 2522 does not recognize refugees or irregular migrants. As a result, refugees enter Thailand with the status of a Tourist Visa. This visa status does not adequately describe why they are in Thailand, as they enter Thailand to seek refuge. Therefore, they are deprived of the right to education or to work or healthcare, and many become victims of human trafficking. The Government can make these changes so that their refugee status is recognized. Refugees are self-sufficient and are able to contribute to the economy and society, just like a tourist.
Advantages of supporting the amendment to the Immigration Act B.E. 2522:
- Implementing a ‘refugee screening process’ (separating them from foreign workers working illegally, human trafficking victims, and irregular migrants)
- Creating a temporary visa category for refugees while their asylum application is being processed. This would enable authorities to monitor the refugees.
- Allowing the United Nations to process asylum applications together with third countries. A new refugee visa category would also assist in the resettlement process. Those who qualify for the temporary refugee visa category would be granted a one year temporary stay in Thailand. This would decrease issues relating to illegal immigration in Thailand.
- Allowing refugees to come to Thailand and be welcomed like friends staying for a short period of time–or like tourists who come to visit the country before moving on to the next. They can take care of themselves without being a tax burden on the government or society.
No one wants to leave his or her homeland unless it is necessary. By supporting the amendment to the Immigration Act, it is one way we can help protect refugees and make the world a better place.
Refugees can then be resettled in a new country with a fresh start, leaving Thailand with the feeling that the Thai people embraced them with open arms.
Treat Them Like A Tourist
Source : www.change.org
Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha
Kingdom of Thailand
How to Support The Campaign
Sign the petition here