Category Archives: Rohingya_inhuman treatment by Thailand

Trafficking is alive and well

Yet another news report started the week proving the abysmal failure in the fight against human trafficking. A Rohingya woman, among nearly 100 crammed like animals into a pickup truck, was crushed to death.

Police, obeying the outdated rules, arrested the other 97 trafficking victims, and the truck driver.

Once again, officials said nothing about pursuing those behind this murderous atrocity.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has mentioned several times during the past few months that a national plan is needed against human trafficking. He is right.

The country has long suffered notoriety as a hub of modern slavery and human trafficking. The PM’s order was promptly followed by new rules and laws to regulate and monitor the appalling fishing industry, to crack down on sex trafficking and child labour, and to compensate the victims of trafficking.

The PM also demanded immediate, monthly reports from state agencies about what they’ve done to stem trafficking and called for better coordination among them.

It remains to be seen how long it will take for orders from the top to turn into real action on the ground. The effectiveness of the policy will depend on action, not just words.

Gen Prayut has spoken of the national necessity to get off the United States’ list of perilous human trafficking locales. Thailand landed on that list last year after 10 years of a declining reputation and three years of specific warnings to improve or be ranked among the worst.

The country did not improve; it now ranks among the worst.

But using the US as motivation to fight human trafficking is not the right way to proceed. Security agencies, the government and the legal system should pursue traffickers, companies that use slavery and cross-border criminals because they are wrong for Thailand — not because we hope for kinder words from America.

Since the government insists on using the Trafficking in Persons Report by the US State Department as the gold standard, let us recall who was in charge as the annual reports documented Thailand’s slide from a respectable, committed country combatting human trafficking to one of the worst enablers of rights violations in the world.

In chronological order: Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai Party and its successors under several prime ministers; the army junta of 2006-2007 under Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin; the Democrats under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva; the Pheu Thai government under Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck; and now the Prayut administration, which faces an immense challenge to turn things around.

So much needs to be done. The proposal to register fishing-boat crews and to monitor the operations of commercial trawlers is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. There must be concerted measures to fight traffickers who lure and feed both foreign and Thai men into the dirtiest part of the fishing business.

And we have heard nothing so far from businesses — canners, agribusiness, food packers, clothing manufacturers and many others. Bad apples in business allow human trafficking and slavery to exist.

The government should begin forcing them to ensure decent treatment of legal employees.

By Bangkok Post

Local villagers reject Rohingya

A vacant house in a police compound will be used as a shelter for 95 illegal Rohingya migrants after local Muslims in Nakhon Si Thammarat province refused to allow them to be housed near their communities.

Local authorities had planned to accommodate them at other locations, but Thai Muslim residents in Hua Sai district opposed the idea.

Nakhon Si Thammarat governor Peerasak Hinmuangkao therefore ordered Hua Sai municipal officials to use a vacant house in the police station compound as a shelter. The Rohingya would receive humanitarian aid pending a decision on their future, he said. Further assistance would be provided by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

The Rohingya were rounded up at a road checkpoint in Hua Sai district on Sunday while traveling in a convoy of many pickup trucks.

Municipal workers fumigated the police compound house to kill mosquitoes and placed it off-limits to the public to prevent the possible transmission of malaria from the Rohingya to local communities. Temporary toilets and lighting would be installed, and tap water, he said.

It was reported that four members of the Rohingya group had died at the sea off Thailand’s Phangnga province after waiting for four months aboard a boat for a chance to go ashore. Three more died after landing from suffocation, blood infections and diarrhea.

Police are investigating reports that a local human trafficking cartel is transporting Rohingya through Thailand to Malaysia and charging each illegal migrant 40,000-50,000 baht per trip.

By Bangkok Post

Rohingya dies in crammed pickup truck: Police arrest 98 ‘trafficking victims’

A Rohingya woman was crushed to death while being transported in a crammed pickup truck from Phangnga to Songkhla yesterday.

She was among 98 Rohingya migrants believed to have been smuggled into the country by a human-trafficking ring. They were arrested at a checkpoint in Hua Sai district of Nakhon Si Thammarat province early yesterday.

The dead woman was buried by workers from the Pracha Ruamjai Foundation.

Pol Capt Somporn Thongcheen, deputy inspector in charge of crime suppression at Hua Sai police station, said the 98 migrants were found crammed into five vehicles.

He said the woman most likely suffocated and the others appeared exhausted.

Pol Capt Somporn said Hua Sai police set up the checkpoint on the Nakhon Si Thammarat-Songkhla road at Village Group 2 in tambon Sai Khao after obtaining information that a number of illegal migrants would pass through the district on their way to Songkhla.

About 4am yesterday, a convoy of vehicles was spotted heading towards the checkpoint.

Officers were able to stop five of the vehicles, but the rest escaped.

There were three four-door pickups, one pickup modified as a van and a Toyota Fortuner.

The drivers of three vehicles fled the scene and the other two were arrested. They were identified as Sawat Phadungchart, 29, of Ranong’s Suksamran district, and Suthipong Chuaypat, 49, of Surat Thani’s Chaiya district.

The migrants found in the five vehicles were later taken to Hua Sai police station.

They were then taken in small groups to Hua Sai Hospital for treatment. All had been travelling without food for two days, Pol Capt Somporn said.

The two drivers said they had picked the Rohingya up from a coastal area of Phangnga and were taking them to Songkhla.

Human trafficking rings have changed their routes from Andaman coastal provinces to provinces along the Gulf of Thailand to avoid strict suppression there, Pol Capt Somporn said.

Churin Khwanthong, chief of the social development and human security office of Nakhon Si Thammarat, said he assigned officials to interview each migrant through interpreters to find out if they had been victims of a human-trafficking movement.

If they were victims of human trafficking rings, authorities would find ways to deport them back to their country of origin, Mr Churin said.

Many local Muslims came to the police station to give food and clothing to the Rohingya after learning of their arrest.

Rohingya have fled their homes in Rakhine state in Myanmar via Thailand to Malaysia in increasing numbers recently.

By Nucharee Rakrun

Boatpeople Spotted Between Phuket and Krabi as Riddle of Missing Rohingya Grows, Phuket Wan

PHUKET: A vessel believed to be crammed with up to 100 Rohingya has been sighted off the coast of Krabi, near Phuket in Thailand, as the mystery over the whereabouts of thousands of boatpeople deepens.

The rickety boat was sighted off the mainland, heading for Koh Yao Yai, a small island that is home to several five-star resorts, between Krabi and Phuket.

Fishing trawlers and a network of small civilian vessels inform local district chiefs of sightings that are usually relayed to Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, which oversees safety at sea.

”We think it was definitely a Rohingya boat,” an official said. ”But we lost contact with it quickly.”

As many as 12,000 members of the Muslim minority in Burma are reported to have fled to sea to avoid persecution since October 15 but only a few hundred have fetched up along Thailand’s Andaman Sea coast, alarming activists who fear something has gone amiss.

”Where are they?” Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, which plots migration across the Bay of Bengal, told Reuters on Saturday. ”We have become very concerned.”

Back in 2009, Phuketwan journalists discovered that boatloads of Rohingya were being towed out to sea by the Thai military and left without engines or sails. Hundreds perished at sea before survivors washed ashore in India and Indonesia.

Five years on, there is no suggestion of a similar occurrence. But the families of the thousands who are now missing have no clue as to their fate.

Many could be being kept by traffickers in secret jungle camps in mangrove-covered islands along the shores of the Thai provinces of Phang Nga and Ranong, close to the border with Burma, where more than 500 boatpeople from Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh have been apprehended in recent weeks.

Almost all of those men, women and children have been taken into custody by local officials, working with Buddhist, Christian and Muslim volunteers to halt the flow of human trafficking victims through Thailand.

With each newly-discovered batch of boatpeople comes an extended debate about whether the unwanted arrivals are human trafficking victims or merely illegal immigrants.

Police and welfare organisations are reluctant to treat the arrivals as trafficked victims because funds and government accommodation are limited.

By categorising the Rohingya as ”Burmese” under laws that allow Thailand to deal more easily with unwanted arrivals from neighboring Burma, Laos and Cambodia, officials can quickly truck the apprehended groups back to the border where they are often delivered straight into the arms of human traffickers again.

The Rohingya, stateless in Burma, are denied all rights and being driven from Rakhine state by hateful Buddhist neighbors. It’s ironic that only as unwanted captives in neighboring Thailand can they achieve their aim of being categorised as Burmese citizens.

Along the coast, district authorities and village chiefs have formed networks among fishing boats to alert them to the presence of boatpeople fleeing Burma and Bangladesh.

Officials from the Department of Special Investigations and the Internal Security Operational Command in Bangkok recently visited the Andaman provinces to assess levels of human trafficking.

Of a boatload of 259 men, women and children who were apprehended near the town of Kaper, 80 Bangladeshis have been sent for processing through a court in Ranong while the other 219 are to be deported as ”Burmese Muslims.”

Burma does not accept the Rohingya as citizens so they cannot return. These people are destined for human traffickers.

Of 86 people being held in the nearby town of Kuraburi, 12 categorised as ”Burmese Muslims” are being sent to Immigration in Phang Nga while the others, all Bangladeshis, are to appear in Phang Nga court as illegal immigrants.

As trafficking networks grow along the region’s Indian Ocean coastline, growing numbers of men from Bangladesh are also being enticed onto boats in search of better jobs in Malaysia.

Bangladeshi authorities are holding five Thais who have been accused of human trafficking and other arrests have been made in Thailand.

Boatpeople Apprehended in Thailand, Sailing Season 2014-2015

September 23 37 boat people at Takaupa, categorised as illegal immigrants. Sentenced to 20 days in jail, now held by Immigration for deportation

October 11 53 boatpeople at Takaupa, categorised as victims of human trafficking, held in shelters at Ranong, Songkhla and Phang Nga

October 13 81 boatpeople at Takaupa, categorised as victims of human trafficking, held in shelters at Ranong, Songkhla and Phang Nga

October 24 boatpeople at Suksamran, categorised as illegal immigrants, sent to Ranong Immigration

October 78 boatpeople at Suksamran, Twelve ”Burmese Muslims” sent to Ranong Immigration, Bangladeshis passed to court system

November 8 299 (overnight suddenly reduced to 259) boatpeople at Kaper. 80 Bangladeshis sent Ranong court, 179 ”Burmese Muslims” at Ranong Immigration

November 11 86 boat people at Kuraburi, 12 ”Burmese Muslims” to Phang Nga Immigration, Bangladeshis to Phang Nga court

ByChutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison

Ranong villagers trained to feed and ‘push on’ Rohingya boat people

Officials in Ranong have trained some 400 villagers to watch out for illegal Rohingya ‘boat people’ and told them to alert the authorities if they see anyone from the stateless ethnic group.
The move is part of a project called “Andaman Guard”. It aims to convince migrants travelling along the route from Myanmar to Thailand not to go ashore – by providing them food, medicine and fuel so they can continue to a third country.Ranong police captured 299 Rohingya – including 23 women and 13 children – in two round-ups this month, deputy provincial chief Pol Colonel Kritsak Sungmulnak said.

The first of 104 Rohingya arrests in Ranong was recorded to have occurred in 1998, with the number of illegal migrants entering the country rising each year.

They travel the 1255km from western Myanmar to Thailand on fishing boats when the sea is generally calmer between November and April. Thousands are said to have taken to boats in recent weeks. The journey typically takes about a fortnight.

By The Nation

Back to Top