Archive for the ‘Thai’ Category

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

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?.

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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

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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

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…..

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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

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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.

Thai Lawmakers Probe Abuse, Death of Hundreds of Muslim Refugees

January 23, 2009

Thailand has almost always had a troubling record on refugees.  Since the war in Vietnam ended in 1975, people have moved into Thailand by land and sea fleeing death, torture and prisons.  But in Thailand, regugees have often found death, torture, rape, miserable conditions not unlike the prisons the refugees hoped to avoid.

Last July, this from Human Rights Watch:

“Forcing civilians back into an active war zone may be an easy answer for Thailand, but it’s brutal – a completely inhumane and unacceptable solution,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Thai government should cooperate with international relief agencies and UNHCR to ensure that it upholds the rights of civilians under international law.”

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Thai lawmakers were probing Thursday “very alarming” reports about its troops abusing and casting out members of a Muslim minority group fleeing to its shores.

Hundreds of Muslim refugees from Burma (Myanmar) are feared missing or dead after Thai troops forced them onto boats without engines and cut them adrift in international waters, according to human rights activists and authorities in India who rescued survivors. The revelations have shone a spotlight on the Thai military’s expulsion policy toward Muslims it sees as a security threat.

Nearly 1,000 refugees were detained on a remote island in December before being towed out to sea in two batches and abandoned with little food or water, according to a tally by a migrant-rights group based on survivors’ accounts and media reports. The detainees, mostly members of Burma’s oppressed Rohingya minority, then drifted for weeks. One group was later rescued by Indonesia’s Navy, and two others made landfall in India’s Andaman Islands.

Related:
Christian Science Monitor:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20
090123/ts_csm/oboats_1

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WO
RLD/asiapcf/01/22/thailand.refugees/index.html

Related:
Consequences of Speedy Withdrawal From Iraq?
(What happend when refugee migrations start…)

A group of refugees guarded by the Thai army sit on a beach ... 
A group of refugees guarded by the Thai army sit on a beach on the Thai island of Koh Sai Baed in this picture taken late 2008 and released to Reuters January 19, 2009. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Sunday that he would meet human rights groups to discuss alleged violations, as further reports emerged of ill-treatment of refugees from Myanmar by Thai security forces. The refugees, the Rohingyas, are Muslims from Myanmar. Many have fled the Buddhist-dominated, army-ruled country to escape repression and economic hardship, but rights groups say hundreds were recently detained on a remote Thai island before being forced back to sea by the security forces with little food or water. REUTERS/South China Morning Post/Pool

Thailand May Sell More Rice, Crush Vietnam and World Market price

January 22, 2009

Thailand, the world’s largest rice exporter, is considering selling up to 5m tonnes from its stockpile – equal to a fifth of the world’s annually traded rice.

From FT

The market is worried that such a large disposal could put further downward pressure on prices, which have halved since spiking last year to an all-time high of about $1,100 a tonne.

Thai medium quality rice, the world’s benchmark, however, has showed resilience, trading at $580 a tonne, more than double the price in 2007, supported by fresh demand from importers in Africa, brokers said.

Thailand’s stockpile has built up as a result of its policy of buying surplus production at above market prices in an effort to protect the incomes of farmers.

The country has been paying its farmers a premium of about 30 per cent for their crops in a bid to shield them from lower prices and high production costs, particularly of fertilisers.

The Ministry of Commerce, which controls the rice reserve, has yet to decide whether to release the stocks onto the open market, which could hit world prices, or try to dispose of it in a government-to-government deal. Thailand and Iran have talked in the past about such a deal.

The Vietnamese government recently concluded a deal to sell 500,000 tonnes to the Philippines, the world’s largest importer, at a price of $420 a tonne including freight. The two countries are also talking about further shipments of about 1.0-1.5m tonnes.

Read the rest:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/820ab62c-e8a0-1
1dd-a4d0-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

Above: Vietnamese farmers harvest rice…

New Thai premier urges Thaksin to return

December 18, 2008

Thailand’s new prime minister called Thursday for fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra to return home to face justice and bring closure to months of political turmoil that has revolved around him.

Abhisit Vejjajiva made the comments a day after being sworn in as Thailand‘s third prime minister in four months.

By AMBIKA AHUJA, Associated Press Writer

Leader of Democrat Party and new Thailand's Prime Minsiter Abhisit ... 
Leader of Democrat Party and new Thailand’s Prime Minsiter Abhisit Vejjajiva addresses media after receiving King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s command at party’s headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008. Abhisit, the 44-year-old, Oxford-educated was voted by Parliament on Monday, promised Wednesday to put together a competent Cabinet to revive the country’s economy battered by months of violent anti-government protests.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, Pool)

Abhisit, a 44-year-old graduate of Oxford, is the first opponent of Thaksin to lead a civilian government in the past seven years. Thaksin, who took power in 2001, was ousted by a coup in 2006 but has nevertheless loomed over Thai politics since then.

A Thai court in October convicted Thaksin in absentia of violating a conflict of interest law while in office and sentenced him to two years in prison. There are several pending corruption cases against Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon.

“I want to see him back,” Abhisit told Channel 7 news. “If he comes back and fights in court and shows that all Thai people are equal, there will be a closure.”

“Thai society is merciful and forgiving, but first he has to show acceptance in the judicial process,” said Abhisit, who was scrambling to assemble a Cabinet capable of tackling the country’s economic and social problems.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081218/ap_
on_re_as/as_thailand_politics
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Thailand, Economy: Power Vacuum Means Nothing is Being Done

December 8, 2008

Thailand‘s political crisis is battering the kingdom’s economy just as the global financial crisis begins to bite, analysts say, but a power vacuum at the top means nothing is being done to help.

Thailand is without a government after a court last week dissolved the ruling party, following a devastating eight-day blockade of Bangkok‘s airports by demonstrators trying to topple the administration.

The lack of leadership comes as the economy faces not only lagging demand for the tourism, commodities and manufactured exports which propel the Thai economy, but also reduced spending at home amid the political uncertainty.

“They really need to get an end to this political crisis and get a working government back in,” said Claire Innes, Asia-Pacific manager for global risk firm IHS Global Insight based in London.

AFP

“You need quite proactive policy-making — fiscal stimulus needs a legislative process, and with a government in disarray, strong decisive action is not going to happen.”

Thailand’s economy is already slowing. Thailand’s central bank has forecast growth for this year to be between 4.3 and five percent, having already cut its estimate from an earlier figure of 4.8-5.8 percent.

Innes said that it could slow further to 2.1 percent in 2009, starting in the fourth quarter of this year.

“We are expecting it to be weaker than even 2001 when the technology bubble burst and hit Asian economies quite hard,” she said, adding that poor growth was likely to continue through 2010.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081207/bs_afp/finance
economythailandpoliticsprotest_081207233432

Thai opposition readies to form new government

December 7, 2008

Thailand‘s main opposition party called Sunday for an emergency parliament session to prove its majority in a bid to form the next government and end months of political chaos, as loyalists of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra struggled to stay in power.

A new administration should bring some semblance of stability to this Southeast Asian nation, which has been gripped by political uncertainty since August when protesters — driven by a single-minded hatred for Thaksin and his allies — seized the prime minister’s office and later overran the capital’s two airports in a bid to topple government.

By VIJAY JOSHI, Associated Press Writer

Leader of Thailand opposition's Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva ... 
Leader of Thailand opposition’s Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva is seen on April 26, 2006 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Democrat Party said Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008 it has enough support to form a new government following a six-month political crisis that has paralyzed the country.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

The opposition Democrat Party said it will ask the speaker of Parliament on Monday to call an extraordinary session of the lower house so that it can prove it has a majority. Both Thaksin’s allies and the opposition say they have enough support to form a government.

“If the Democrat Party forms the government, I will try to boost confidence and revive the tourism industry and the image of the country,” said 44-year-old party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, a former economics lecturer who will become the next prime minister if his party comes to power.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081207/ap_on_re_
as/as_thailand_political_unrest

The court ruling forcing Thailand's premier from office ... 
The court ruling forcing Thailand’s premier from office ended crippling protests, but analysts say the kingdom’s political problems run deep and will flare up again. (AFPTV)