Anti-Myanmar hate speech flares in Thailand over virus

“Wherever you see Myanmar people, shoot them down,” read one Thai comment on YouTube after a surge of coronavirus cases among workers from Myanmar.

The outbreak, first detected at a seafood market near Bangkok, has prompted a flare-up in such online hate speech as well as questions over the treatment of millions of migrant workers in traditionally tolerant Thailand.

“Myanmar people are being labelled for transmitting COVID-19, but the virus doesn’t discriminate,” said Sompong Srakaew of the Labor Protection Network, a Thai group helping migrant workers.

Shifting sentiment had real consequences, he said, with workers from Myanmar, previously known as Burma, being blocked from buses, motorcycle taxis and offices.

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Reporting by Shoon Naing in Yangon; Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Sam Holmes