Category Archives: Rohingya_inhuman treatment by Thailand
PHUKET: Human Rights Watch is calling on the Government of Thailand to reveal the whereabouts of a boatload of would-be refugees and explain the Army’s role in the unconventional apprehension and detention of the group.The 92 Rohingya waded ashore on the Thai mainland north of Phuket on Thursday and were last seen being trucked to an unknown destination. Locals were told the men and boys were headed for an Army base.
The deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, Phil Roberson, said yesterday evening: ”We are concerned by these reports and we would like the Government to clearly explain where these people are and what they plan to do with them.”
It was a ”worrisome development” to have the detention of illegal arrivals in Thailand once again removed from the Immigration authorities who usually handle such matters, he said.
Fresh questions about Thailand’s policy towards the Rohingya boatpeople are being raised as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares for a history-making visit to Burma, where the Muslim minority is deprived of citizenship and driven to pay people traffickers to escape by sea.
While the Burmese government wants to chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014 and has recently shown limited but encouraging signs of reform, its most repugnant policy, under which the Rohingya are denied every basic human right, remains in place.
Burma’s denial of Rohingya rights leaves the whole region without a hope of resolving the Rohingya boatpeople issue. Thousands are expected to put to sea between now and April, aiming for neighboring countries, to try to flee Burma’s repression.
In 2008-2009, after almost 5000 boatpeople arrived in a single ”sailing season”, Thailand took the covert and drastic measure of towing unwanted Rohingya out to sea and cutting them adrift.
Hundreds drowned before survivors arrived in Indonesia and India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands, as Phuketwan and the South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong were the first to reveal.
The concern of Human Rights Watch and other international bodies is that the disappearance of the latest batch of unwanted arrivals is a ghastly reminder of that tragic failed policy.
”Thailand needs to produce these people,” Mr Robertson said. ”Trucking them off into the distance is no answer to this problem.”
There was a whole list of questions about the unexplained detention of the group that needed to be answered to ensure Thailand was meeting its human rights obligations, he said.
The absence of information from the Thai Government was cause for ”very serious concern.”
The latest Rohingya arrivals scuttled their rickety vessel on Thursday and waded ashore near the port of Kuraburi, in Phang Nga province, north of the international holiday island of Phuket.
Local authorities were told the men and boys would be handed to the Army, which has a base in the province of Ranong, further north on the border with Burma.
It was on a small, uninhabited island off the coast near the Army base that Rohingya were first secretly detained in 2009, then towed out to sea and cut adrift.
After that reprehensible treatment was revealed, boatloads were again handed over in the conventional manner to Thai Immigration officials. Immigration detained groups who landed on Phuket and south of Phuket earlier this year.
Because the Rohingya do not have citizenship, they cannot be officially returned to Burma. It is believed groups apprehended in Thailand earlier this year have been surreptitiously returned to the people traffickers.
By Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian
Published on November 29, 2011
BANGKOK (AlertNet) – Rights groups have urged Thailand to investigate claims that its navy pushed a group of “boat people” from Myanmar’s embattled Rohingya minority back out to sea in rickety vessels, two years after similar allegations surfaced.
The groups also called on Indonesia and India to protect Rohingyas who fled by sea to the nearby countries in recent weeks.
The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority from Rakhine State in the west of predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. Rights groups say they suffer much abuse and are denied free movement, education and employment by the military junta. They are also denied citizenship.
A group of 91 Rohingyas with little food and water landed in India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands in early February in what the BBC said was an engineless boat. The group told Indian police they had been set adrift by the Thai navy.
The Thai Foreign Ministry has denied this and said it deported a group of 91 Rohingyas (who reached Thailand in January) at the Thai-Myanmar border crossing in Ranong province in southern Thailand “which was in line with their wish”.
Kitty McKinsey, a spokeswoman for the United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, told AlertNet:
“Based on the information we have now it seems likely that the 91 who are in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the same 91 who were intercepted in Thailand on 22nd January.”
“We don’t know exactly [how] they would’ve gotten from Thailand to the Nicobar Islands.”
Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are calling for Thailand to investigate the case.
“Thailand’s blanket denial that 91 Rohingya deportees were pushed back to sea fails to explain their arrival in the Andaman and Nicobar islands,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
“The Thai government should promptly and impartially investigate which officials were responsible for towing migrants out to sea and cutting them loose.”
ANOTHER GROUP FOUND DRIFTING OFF ACEH
Last week, Indonesian fishermen found another 129 Rohingyas drifting in a boat off the coast of Aceh. Like the group in Andaman and Nicobar islands, they were said to be starving and severely dehydrated when found.
They have been at sea for about three weeks, according to Indonesian officials.
In a statement, Amnesty International asked Thailand, India and Indonesia to act on “their obligations under international human rights and customary international law” including helping determine if they qualify for refugee status.
In a similar incident two years ago, the Thai navy was accused of towing 992 Rohingya boat people to sea before abandoning them to their fate with little food or water in boats without engines. Many were found off the coast of Indonesia but hundreds were feared to have died. Thailand promised to investigate but said the results were inconclusive.
“The situation of the Rohingyas would be concerning enough just considering their persecution in Myanmar and their precarious state on the high seas,” Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty’s researcher for southeast Asia, told AlertNet.
“When factoring in what happened to them at the hands of Thai authorities in late 2008 and early 2009 — and that similar unlawful and inhuman treatment is being alleged again — their situation is even more alarming. The problem is rooted in Myanmar but implicates the region, but two years on we’re no closer to accountability or a solution.”
Rights groups say thousands of Rohingyas flee Myanmar for Malaysia and Bangladesh each year. Malaysia is home to 85,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Myanmar although it is unknown how many are Rohingyas.
Aid groups estimate over 300,000 Rohingyas live in Bangladesh, mostly in horrendous conditions at makeshift camps, living in mud huts covered in plastic sheets and tree branches.
Thailand has around 150,000 refugees, mainly from eastern Myanmar, in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border.
NEW DELHI — Ninety-one Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh have landed on India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands claiming they had been turned back into the sea by the Thai navy, a police officer said Friday.
Police found the starving refugees as they swam half a mile into a village after their engine-less boat ran aground in the Andaman Sea last Saturday, said Superintendent S.B.S. Tyagi.
Twenty-eight of them were taken to hospital as they were found to be emaciated and very weak, Tyagi told The Associated Press.
He said the 91 refugees had set out from Bangladesh for Malaysia by way of Thailand on Jan. 2 to find jobs after paying money to traffickers.
They told Indian police that the Thai navy caught them on Jan. 13 and kept them in an isolated place for five days for illegally entering Thai waters.
Then naval officers towed them out to sea and left them adrift in the engine-less boat on Jan. 19 after giving them some rice, drinking water and cooking utensils, Tyagi quoted them as saying.
Their boat drifted for several days in the sea without any food and water before they arrived at the Indian territory around two weeks later, he said. None of them had travel documents.
On Friday, Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said it was unlikely that the Rohingya refugees were pushed out into the sea by the Thai Navy, but said the government would look into the matter.
“The normal practice is to prosecute refugees who illegally enter Thai waters and then deport them via land transportation,” said the spokesman in Bangkok, the Thai capital.
“Normally the navy officers try to keep the refugees out of Thai waters unless they need help. Their destination is Malaysia, not Thailand,” Panitan told the AP in a telephone interview.
All 91 refugees were taken to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, from where they will be repatriated to Bangladesh, Indian police officer Tyagi said.
Thousands of Bangladeshis try to reach other countries each year in search of better jobs, often paying up to $300 to trafficking syndicates. They are sometimes joined by Burmese refugees, mostly Muslims known as Rohingyas, who have fled to Bangladesh from military-ruled Burma.
The Rohingya number about 800,000 in Burma, but are not recognized as a distinct ethnicity. Rights groups say they face persecution by the military junta.
AP correspondent Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok contributed to this report.
By ASHOK SHARMA / AP WRITER Friday, February 11, 2011
Thailand is turning a deaf ear to calls from rights groups to allow the UN’s refugee agency to interview some 200 detained Rohingya boatpeople.
The last group of 68 Rohingya boatpeople was handed over to Thai immigration authorities on Wednesday for questioning. They are currently being detained in Phuket after being arrested by Thai police on Tuesday when they came ashore.
Alan Morison, the editor of the Phuket Wan online website, said that Thai immigration authorities decide after questioning the Rohingyas whether to allow the UNHCR access to the boatpeople or whether to deport them.
Rohingya migrants sit outside a police station in southern Thailand. (Photo: Channel News Asia)
Tuesday’s landing was the third such incident in recent weeks after a total of 150 Rohingya refugees went ashore in Ranong and Trang in southern Thailand in January.
Rohingya people frequently leave their homes and families in Bangladesh and Burma where they are discriminated against and whose living conditions are among the worst in the world.
Attempting to find work in neighboring Thailand and Malaysia, and travelling by sea in small boats, they regularly wash ashore or are forced to land because of the conditions in the Andamman Sea.
Two prominent rights groups have also called on the Thai government to give UNHCR staff permission to visit the Rohingya boatpeople to determine if they qualify as refugees or need international protection.
Richard Sollom, the deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, said, “These stateless Muslims from Burma are fleeing religious and ethnic persecution, and they deserve recognition as refugees. Thailand needs to follow the lead of Malaysia and allow the UN High Commissioner for Refugees access to the asylum seekers to ensure that they receive a fair and honest evaluation.”
Sollom said that the Rohingya people generally endure lives of persecution in Burma, and after their dramatic escape, they deserve a chance at freedom.
On Tuesday, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Thailand should immediately allow the UNHCR access to the more than 200 detained Rohingya boatpeople who landed in Thailand in January and Feb. 1.
HRW said that the boatpeople are at risk of “atrocious” persecution in Burma, but the Thai authorities continue to pretend that they are no different from any other undocumented migrants.
Thailand has also been criticized for treating Rohingya people inhumanely—the Rohingya issue drew international attention in 2009 when the Thai military was accused of intercepting boatloads of Rohingyas, sabotaging their vessels and abandoning them at sea
By SAW YAN NAING Thursday, February 3, 2011
BANGKOK (AlertNet) – The United Nation’s refugee agency is trying to get access to 150-odd Rohingyas detained in Thailand in the past few days, amid fears they may be deported back to Myanmar which does not recognise them as citizens.
The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. Rights groups say they are one of the most discriminated people in the world, suffering abuses and deprived of free movement, education and employment under the country’s military junta.
“We’re certainly concerned about the fate of reportedly two groups of 158 Rohingya boat people,” said Andrej Mahecic, UNHCR spokesman.
“We have approached Thai government and we have asked for access to these people in order to do two things — first to assess the situation and secondly, to determine if any of them are in need of international protection, in other words, if they’re refugees.”
Two groups of Rohingya men landed in Thailand on Saturday and Sunday en route to Malaysia when engine trouble forced them to come ashore.
Local news reports said there may be a total of eight boats that have left the former Burma although the other six boats are currently unaccounted for.
Thai authorities reportedly said both groups would probably be repatriated, sparking concerns from rights groups.
A group of 67 Rohingyas are in custody in Thailand’s southern Satun province while another group of 91 has been transferred to Ranong close to the border with Myanmar, UNHCR said.
The plight of the Rohingyas came to light two years ago when Thailand’s military was accused of towing 992 Rohingyas boat people to sea before abandoning them to their fate with little food or water in boats without engines.
“Certainly in the light of events of January 2009 … and given the commitment of the new Thai government to human rights, we are keen to open the dialogue with the government,” Mahecic said.
“We are also ready to assist the solution of the latest situation in line with the customary international humanitarian standards.”
Malaysia is home to 85,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Myanmar although it is unknown how many are Rohingyas. The Myanmese constitute 92 percent of Malaysia’s refugee population.
Rohingyas have also been seeking refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh since the late 1970s. Thailand currently has around 150,000 refugees, mainly from eastern Myanmar, in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border.
26 Jan 2011
Source: alertnet // AlertNet correspondent