Archive for the ‘boat people’ Category

CNN Gets To The Truth: Thailand Admits Abuse of Refugees

February 14, 2009

CNN has doggedly chased this humanitarian issue: Thailand violating refugees who land from the sea.  Now Thailamd’s Prime Minister has admited to the abuse….

From My SinChew

After being in a state of denial for weeks, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has finally admitted to international media that Thai authorities pushed Rohingya boat people back out to sea and abandoned them.

In an exclusive interview with CNN on Thursday (12 Feb), Abhisit said there was reason to believe some incidents had occurred.

“It’s not exactly clear whose handiwork it is,” he said. “All the authorities say it’s not their policy, though I have reason to believe some instances did happen, but if I can find evidence as to who exactly did this, I will certainly bring them to account.”

Panitan Wattanayagorn, deputy secretary to the prime minister, earlier said the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) had been assigned to integrate all security regarding migrants along the West Coast.

Colonel Manat Kongpan, commander of Isoc’s Fourth Region, Friday (13 Feb) told reporters the military had not committed any such inhumane acts towards the boat people.

“Thais should not pay attention to such crazy news reports. If anyone had died, there’d be bodies,” he said. “The media are simply quoting those wanting to attack Thailand.”

The Navy arrested nearly 1,000 Rohingya boat people in Dec and Jan. They were shifted to the strategic military island of Koh Sai Daeng before being towed back out to sea and abandoned.

Abhisit said that “at times” there had been “a lot of pressure in terms of the numbers of these people coming in”.

The government believes the boat people to be normal economic migrants and is trying to persuade other countries to help tackle the problem.

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UN visits boat people detained in Thailand

January 29, 2009

U.N. officials were allowed to meet Thursday with boat people detained by Thailand and interviewed a dozen migrants as young as 14 about their perilous journey and allegations they were abused.

The meeting came after weeks of calls by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and rights groups for Thailand to provide access to the Rohingyas — members of a stateless Muslim ethnic group who fled persecution in Myanmar — and explain allegations that it forced out to sea as many as 1,000 migrants.

By AMBIKA AHUJA, Associated Press Writer

UNHCR officials were granted access to 12 young people, aged 14 to 17, from a group of 78 Rohingyas who were rescued by the Thai navy on Monday night, said Kitty McKinsey, the U.N. agency’s Asia spokeswoman.

“They were in good condition,” she said. “It’s a big step forward that we have gotten access to them. We’re now getting good cooperation from the Thai government to solve this issue.”

McKinsey said she would discuss their findings with Thai authorities before publicizing them, but reaffirmed the agency’s demand that Thailand not forcibly return them to Myanmar. A Thai court convicted the adult migrants detained with the minors of illegal entry on Wednesday, raising concerns they could be deported.

“In principal, the UNHCR is opposed to anyone being forcibly returned to Myanmar,” she said. “I think its human rights record is well known.”

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This photo released on January 20, shows illegal immigrants ... 
This photo released on January 20, shows illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar receiving food, in Similan island south of Thailand. (AFP/HO/File/AFP)

Myanmar, Thailand Force Hungry Refugees to Run, Or Deport Them To Where?

January 29, 2009

Dozens of migrants from Myanmar who washed up in Thailand this week were convicted Wednesday of illegal entry and will be deported, police said, raising fears that they may face persecution back home.

The 78 Muslim Rohingyas — 66 men and 12 teenage boys — were intercepted just after midnight Tuesday and taken into police custody amid accusations that the Thai military have abused other boat people from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

 Thailand denies abusing migrants; sends some to trial

Colonel Veerasilp Kwanseng, commander of the Paknam police station where the Rohingya were detained, said the 66 adults were fined 1,000 baht (28 dollars) each for illegal entry, but could not pay so were jailed for five days.


A Thai soldier checks the documents of a Myanmar migrant travelling ... 
A Thai soldier checks the documents of a Myanmar migrant travelling in a boat in Thailand’s southern Ranong province. Dozens of migrants from Myanmar who washed up in Thailand this week were convicted Wednesday of illegal entry and will be deported, police said, raising fears that they may face persecution back home.(AFP/File/Tuwaedaniya Meringing)

“They will stay in prison until the term is finished and then immigration will take them before processing their deportation,” Veerasilp said.

The 12 Rohingya teenage boys who are under the age of 19 will not be jailed, but will be deported with the rest of the group, he added.

Accusations of mistreatment surfaced earlier this month after nearly 650 Rohingya were rescued off India and Indonesia, some claiming to have been beaten by Thai soldiers before being set adrift in the high seas to die.

Hundreds of the boat people are still believed to be missing at sea.

Kitty McKinsey, spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, said the fact that the 78 Rohingya were processed by police rather than the army was positive, but said they continued to press for access to the migrants.

The UNHCR has asked to see another group of 126 Rohingya reportedly detained in Thailand earlier this month, but authorities have denied they exist.

The Rohingya are stateless and face religious and ethnic persecution from Myanmar’s military regime, forcing thousands of them to take to rickety boats each year in a bid to escape poverty and oppression, and head to Malaysia.

The Thai foreign ministry earlier Wednesday “categorically denied” reports that it had mistreated any migrants.