Archive for the ‘refugees’ 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.

Read the rest:
http://www.mysinchew.com/node/21240

Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asia
pcf/02/12/thailand.refugees.admission/in
dex.html

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Angelina Jolie asks Thailand to aid refugees

February 8, 2009

Our thanks and admiration go to actress Angelina Jolie who is using her “starpower” to bring international attention to the plight of refugees in and around Thailand.

Almost 111,000 refugees are housed in norther Thailand in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border.

Thailand also has a growing number of refugees entering from Myanmar who have charged Thai authorities with abuse.

We’ve seen Thailand struggle with refugees since the fall of South Vietnam in 1975.

Jolie, who serves as a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees goodwill ambassador, has dubbed refugees “the most vulnerable people in the world.”

This photo released by United Nations High Commissioner for ... 
This photo released by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie with Karenni refugee children during a visit to Ban Mai Nai Soi camp in northern Thailand. Jolie and Brad Pitt visited Myanmar refugees in a Thai camp, including one woman who had been there for more than two decades, the UN said Friday.(AFP/UNHCR)

Related:
CNN: Angelina asks Thailand….
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asia
pcf/02/07/thailand.jolie.refugees/index.html

 Thailand denies abusing migrants; sends some to trial

For Refugees, Recession Makes Hard Times Even Harder

January 30, 2009

After escaping violence in Burma and spending 27 years in the bamboo huts of a United Nations camp in Thailand, Nyaw Paw, 33, arrived in the United States last August to face the traumatic adjustment and cultural vertigo known to every refugee.

By ERIK ECKHOLM
The New York Times
But with high rents, lagging federal aid and now a recession that is drying up entry-level work, the transition has become harder than ever, refugee workers say. Overwhelming housing costs are its starkest symptom. Many new arrivals spend 90 percent or more of their income on rent and utilities, leaving them virtually no disposable income and creating enormous hardships.

Ms. Nyaw Paw, who was placed in Salt Lake City with her two sons, ages 6 and 13, has scraped together the $600 rent on their one-bedroom apartment from federal payments that ended in December. Now, her only income is a welfare grant of about $500 a month; a private aid agency fills the gap.

Ms. Nyaw Paw has tried for traditional starter jobs, like motel housekeeping, but no one is hiring here. Her life demands such frugality that she washes the family clothes in the bathtub rather than feeding quarters to the machine down the hall.

“I think about the rent every minute,” Ms. Nyaw Paw said through a translator, “and I don’t know what I’ll do when the aid programs run out.”

Poor refugees — like low-income Americans — can apply for rent subsidies, which require that recipients spend 30 percent of their income on rent, with the federal government picking up the rest. But in Salt Lake City, there is a two-year waiting list, and it is longer in many other cities.

Starting in February, in the first program of its kind, Utah plans to soften the huge and growing burden of housing costs by providing rent subsidies to recently arrived families for up to two years. The money is being drawn from unspent federal welfare reserves. Under the welfare reforms of 1996, states can use the federal grant flexibly for families that already qualify for welfare, mainly single-parent families like Ms. Nyaw Paw’s. For them, such help will make a world of difference.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/3
0/us/30refugees.html?_r=1&hp

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.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090129/a
p_on_re_as/as_thailand_boat_people_8

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.

Related:
 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.

AFP

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.

Myanmar Humanitarian Trouble Continues: Now More Hunger, Refugees

January 29, 2009

Myanmar is facing a food shortage largely due to last year’s deadly Cyclone Nargis, which destroyed nearly all the rice crops in the fertile Ayeyarwaddy delta, the United Nations said Wednesday.

After the cyclone last year, there were several signs of impending trouble.  The military junta of Myanmar turned away tons of supplies that arrived off shore with the U.S. Navy and made the jobs of relief workers, suppliers and aid groups difficult.

The ruling government even apparently lied lied to the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon when he arrived to help speed relief efforts.

Myanmar has been quiet and unnoticed most of the time since, largely because the government controls the media, keeps unwanted eyes out, and makes money with its oil wealth, lately with new deals with China.

Rice production in the cyclone-affected areas of Ayeyarwaddy and Yangon, the largest city and former capital of Myanmar, is expected to be 50 percent of last year’s, according to the report issued by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP).

Rat infestation in western’s Myanmar’s Chin State has also contributed to the food shortage, the report says.

“Access to food remains the critical challenge for the poorest people and for vulnerable populations in remote areas of Myanmar,” Chris Kaye of the WFP.

Now reguees are fleeing Myanmar to eat — and some recently arrived in Thailand only to end up in jail.  These are victims of bad government — they only want to eat.

Myanmar, like Darfur, is a humanitarian disaster that has kept going without relief because of bad government.

Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORL
D/asiapcf/01/29/myanmar.food.sho
rtage/index.html

Refugees in Thailand convicted, fined, jailed

January 28, 2009

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) — A Thai judge fined dozens of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of illegal entry after escaping from their own country a month ago — amid allegations that other Rohingya have been dumped at sea by the Thai army.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.  They fled Myanmar and were jailed in Thailand for “illegal entry.”  Where is the U.N.?

The Ranong Provincial Court judge ordered each of the 66 ethnic Muslim refugees to pay 1,000 Thai baht (less than $30). He imposed the fines via a closed-circuit television link to Ranong Provincial Prison, where the refugees will continue to be held until they can pay the court.

Twelve additional refugees, all teenagers, were being detained at a police station and are exempt from prosecution.

Read it all:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asia
pcf/01/28/thailand.refugees/index.html

Related:
Thailand denies abusing migrants; sends some to trial

Thailand denies abusing migrants; sends some to trial

January 28, 2009

It should come as no surprise that the Thai government denied that it was abusing migrants.

I live with “boat people” who fled communism in Vietnam after 1975.  Many still weep when recalling their treatment in thailand.

So I have a tendency to believe the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and journalists on the scene who have spoken to the Myanmar minority Rohingya refugees now in Thailand….

Reviews of United Nations records and media reports show a pattern of questionable if not barbaric treatment of refugees in Thailand.  Currently, there are at least two regugee abuse situation inside Thailand and not just one….

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

*****

A group of refugees who survived being at sea for a month, then being beaten and burned, now await the next turn of their fates in the Thai court system.

They’ll go to trial?
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asia
pcf/01/28/thailand.refugees/index.html

********

AFP

Thailand‘s government has “categorically denied” mistreating migrants following reports it towed hundreds of desperate boat people back out to sea and abandoned them.

Survivors say Thailand’s military towed hundreds of migrants from Myanmar’s minority Rohingya community out to sea in poorly equipped boats with scant food and water.

But the foreign ministry said such actions had no place in Thai policy.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.

“As for the serious allegations… including that various forms of mistreatment were inflicted… this must be categorically denied as having no place in policy and procedures,” the ministry said in a statement released late Tuesday.

“Nevertheless, should concrete evidence be presented, the Thai government would serious look into such cases and further verification (would be) carried out,” it added.

The statement said Thai law required that all migrants arriving along the south west Andaman coastline be stopped, questioned and their needs assessed.

It said those who had not smuggled goods into the kingdom received basic humanitarian assistance before being repatriated or escorted out of Thai territory. Smugglers would be investigated and then ordered out, it said.

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.

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

Abhisit has said authorities were dealing with the boat people in a humane way, but Britain on Tuesday joined the United Nations in expressing “concern” for the migrants’ welfare.

The foreign ministry statement said an estimated 20,000 illegal migrants were currently in Thailand and said several thousand arrive each year, calling the issue “a collective problem” for regional countries to address together.

Meanwhile Thai authorities detained a further 78 boat people from Myanmar who were found off Surin island in the south around midnight Monday, police said.

Related:
http://inthefield.blogs.cnn.com/2009/01/23/sc
andal-of-new-boat-people-damaging-thailand/

More Refugees Land in Thailand Amid Abuse, Human Rights Furor

Thailand’s Questionable Talk On Stopping Abuse of Refugees

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf
/01/27/thailand.refugees/index.html

More Refugees Land in Thailand Amid Abuse, Human Rights Furor

January 27, 2009

 A new boatload of Rohingya refugees washed up on the shores of Thailand early Tuesday, raising questions about the type of treatment they would receive.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says previous boat loads of Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have been beated, whiped and pushed back to sea by Thais.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.
A recent CNN investigation found evidence that the Thai military towed hundreds of refugees into open waters only to abandon them.

CNN obtained several photos of this activity including one photo that shows the Thai army towing a boatload of some 190 refugees far out to sea. CNN also interviewed a refugee who said he was one of the few that survived after his group of six rickety boats were towed back to sea and abandoned by Thai authorities in January.

Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORL
D/asiapcf/01/27/thailand.ref
ugees/index.html

Reviews of United Nations records and media reports show a patters of questionable if not barbaric treatment of refugees in Thailand.  Currently, there are at least two regugee abuse situation inside Thailand and not just one…..

Thailand’s Questionable Talk On Stopping Abuse of Refugees

A group of Rohingya migrants are seen in a boat at sea off of ... 
A group of Rohingya migrants are seen in a boat at sea off of Koh Sai Daeng in southwest Thailand in this undated photo obtained by CNN. Pressure mounted on Thailand on January 26, 2009 to come clean on allegations the army towed Rohingya refugees out to sea and abandoned them in engine-less boats, after CNN showed pictures depicting exactly that.

This picture provided to CNN is said to show refugees being towed out to sea by the Thai army.

This picture provided to CNN is said to show refugees being towed out to sea by the Thai army.

Thailand’s Questionable Talk On Stopping Abuse of Refugees

January 26, 2009

Reviews of United Nations records and media reports show a patters of questionable if not barbaric treatment of refugees in Thailand.  Currently, there are at least two regugee abuse situation inside Thailand and not just one…..

******

With global media attention on the Thai military’s alleged mistreatment of a group of refugee boat people from Myanmar, a larger and potentially more controversial refugee tragedy is unfolding on Thailand’s northeastern border with Laos.

By Brian McCartan
Asia Times

Thailand agreed last week to repatriate the remaining 5,000 ethnic Hmong refugees to Laos by June of this year. Both Bangkok and Vientiane see the Hmong refugees as an outdated vestige of the Cold War and a hindrance to greater economic integration. The Hmong are the persecuted remnants of a guerilla army trained and paid by the United States to fight a covert war in Laos from1961-74 against communist Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese forces.

Related:
Thai Lawmakers Probe Abuse, Death of Hundreds of Muslim Refugees

When the Pathet Lao won and established a communist regime in 1975, hundreds of thousands of Laos, including many Hmong, fled to refugee camps in neighboring Thailand. Several thousand remained to carry on a desperate resistance against government forces in remote jungle-covered mountains.

On the run for decades, 4,000 to 5,000 Hmong fled the jungle in recent years to Thailand. By 2007, there were some 8,000 Hmong in Huay Nam Khao refugee camp in Thailand’s Petchabun province. Another 2,000 or so armed Hmong and their families surrendered to the government between June 2005 and May 2007. An estimated 1,000 Hmong still remain on the run in Laos.

The United States, like Thailand, would clearly like to see the problem go away so that it can improve ties with the Lao government and counterbalance China’s growing influence in the region. The US in recent years offered to send soldiers to Laos to help build roads and schools; Laos declined the offer. Meanwhile, Washington has shown scant interest in resettling the latest batch of refugees, which would require a legal waver due to strict post-9/11 immigration laws that bar anyone who has ever taken up arms against a government.

In a sign of the US’s shifting attitude, it is currently prosecuting former Hmong resistance leader and ally Vang Pao and several other Hmong in the US for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Lao government. The new Thai government has curiously prioritized Lao relations, with Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya making his first trip abroad to Laos and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva scheduled to visit on January 23.

Read the rest:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southea
st_Asia/KA21Ae01.html

*****

CNN has an in-depth report on the abuse of the refugees from Myanmar in Thailand:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/01/2
5/thailand.refugees/index.html

A group of Rohingya migrants are seen in a boat at sea off of ... 
A group of Rohingya migrants are seen in a boat at sea off of Koh Sai Daeng in southwest Thailand in this undated photo obtained by CNN. Pressure mounted on Thailand on January 26, 2009 to come clean on allegations the army towed Rohingya refugees out to sea and abandoned them in engine-less boats, after CNN showed pictures depicting exactly that.