Archive for the ‘Thailand’ 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

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

New Year Turns To Fire and Death At China “Party”

February 1, 2009

How many times do we have to learn that fireworks, alcohol and nightclubs don’t mix?

China experienced another unnecessary tragedy of party-fireworks-nightclub when a group celebrating a birthday during China’s New Year shot off fireworks at their table and set fire to a bar in China’s Fujian province, leading to the deaths of 15 people, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The fire was in Changle City, which translates into “lasting happiness.”

This tragedy has been played out in Bangkok where a band named “Burn” ignited destruction and death. Sixty-five people were killed in that fire in the crowded Santika nightclub exposing the dismal safety standards of Bangkok’s shady entertainment scene.

A Rhode Island club fire in 2003 killed 100.

We may never know the complete cause of death in China in this fireworks incident because China controls its media.  But it is a safe bet that fireworks, alcohol and bad safety thinking are to blame.

China fire from CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORL
D/asiapcf/01/31/china.fire/index.html

Related:
Bangkok Club Fire On New Year’s Reveals “Host Of Safety Violations” in “Shady Entertainment World”

Policemen and rescue workers look at the bodies of victims outside Santika nightclub in Bangkok January 1, 2009. A blaze at the top Bangkok nightclub killed at least 58 people celebrating the New Year and injured more than 100 others.
 

Aftermath of the January 1 Club fire in Thailand. Photograph by: Kerek Wongsa/Reuters, Reuters

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.

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

Bangkok Club Fire On New Year’s Reveals “Host Of Safety Violations” in “Shady Entertainment World”

January 27, 2009

The lead singer of a band called Burn has been charged with starting a Bangkok nightclub fire that killed 65 partygoers on new year’s eve by launching fireworks from the stage.

By Thomas Bell in Bangkok
Telegraph (UK)

The tragedy in the crowded Santika nightclub exposed the dismal safety standards of Bangkok’s shady entertainment scene. An official inquiry into the incident found a catalogue of safety failures and that the nightclub was part-owned by a senior police officer who allegedly protected it from official scrutiny.

Shortly after midnight a blaze engulfed the crowded building with around 1000 people trapped inside and only one marked exit. The fire killed 65 people and injured more than 200 others, including 4 Britons.

“Eyewitnesses and evidence points to fireworks as the cause of the fire at Santika pub, because the fireworks hit the club ceiling and the fire broke out 30 seconds after the fireworks were lit,” said General Jongrak Jutanont, deputy national police chief on Tuesday.

He said police had arrested Saravuth Ariya, 28, the lead singer of Burn.

“He was seen carrying fireworks into the pub and lighting them during the countdown,” said Gen Jongrak.

Mr Saravuth is the sixth person to be charged in connection with the fire. The others – all owners and managers of the club – have been charged with causing death by negligence and admitting under age drinkers.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/thailand/435
7374/Lead-singer-accused-of-Bangkok-nightclub-fire-whic
h-killed-65-people.html

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Band, Nightclub In Rhode Island Kills 100 With Pyrotechnics

From the Boston Globe in 2003….
http://www.boston.com/news/packages/nightclu
b_fire/Series_of_errors_sealed_crowd_s_fate+.shtml

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.

Obama: Muslims not America’s enemy, “I have Muslim members of my family”

January 27, 2009

“My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy,” Obama said in an interview with the Al-Arabiya satellite television network. “We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect.”

“I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries,” Obama said.

In his first interview with an Arab television station, United States President Barack Obama Monday told the Muslim world that “Americans are not your enemy” and said Israel and the Palestinians should resume peace negotiations.

See the Al-Arabiya story and video:
http://www.alarabiya.net/english.html

President Obama believes that a new era of understanding can heal difficulties between the U.S. and the Muslim world.

And Muslim like Barack Obama, despite efforts by al-Qaeda to make Obama an enemy.

“He kills your brothers and sisters in Gaza mercilessly and without affection,” an al-Qaeda spokesman declared in a grainy Internet video this month.

Al-Qaeda tried ugly words to demonize Obama.  That didn’t work.

Joby Warrick of the Washington Post wrote, “The torrent of hateful words is part of what terrorism experts now believe is a deliberate, even desperate, propaganda campaign against a president who appears to have gotten under al-Qaeda’s skin. The departure of George W. Bush deprived al-Qaeda of a polarizing American leader who reliably drove recruits and donations to the terrorist group.”
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Muslims face discrimination and fight for jobs, religious freedom and recognition in many parts of the world.

France currently faces a troubled record with Muslim immigrants who do not feel a part of the society. Thailand continues to deal with religious trouble between Muslims and Buddhists.

In southern Thailand, the government stands accused of beating and rejecting Muslim refugees that have fled Myanmar.  And in parts of Africa, Muslims are engaged in wars with neighbors in sectarian fighting.
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“I think the most important thing is for the United States to get engaged right away,” President Obama told  Al-Arabiya TV. “I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people.”

“Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what’s best for them. They’re going to have to make some decisions,” President Obama said. “But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that, instead, it’s time to return to the negotiating table.”

Related:
CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS
/01/27/obama.arabia/index.html

Gaza Causes Friction in France, Where Muslims Have “No Chance”

Gaza Fight Thunders Across Middle East, Britain, France, Media

Al-Qaeda Challenge: Dealing With American President Muslims Like

From Politico:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/2009
0127/pl_politico/18016

This is an undated file  photo of al Qaida leader  Osama bin ... 
During the war in Gaza, al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden issued a new audiotape urging Muslims to launch a jihad, or holy war, to stop the Israeli offensive.(AP Photo)