Further updated: Still mistreating Rohinga

2 01 2013

When reading a Voice of America report we were reminded of then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s claims in 2009, published in The Guardian:

Thailand’s prime minister acknowledged yesterday that officials had towed migrants from Burma back out to sea, but insisted human rights were not violated. Many Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in their native land, have tried to land in Thailand in recent months, only to be turned away. Rescued migrants said the Thai navy towed them out to the high seas in boats with no engines. Hundreds died as a result. The prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, said the boats “were towed out so they can land at a different destination”. He did not deny that sending them away was government policy.

The report at the VOA says that perhaps “hundreds” died under the Abhisit policy of shoving them back out to sea.

In recent days “a boat-load of Rohingya Muslim refugees allegedly fleeing sectarian violence and persecution in western Burma…” arrived in Thailand and the Yingluck Shinawatra administration has determined that they “must be sent back to their homeland.”

Thai authorities intercepted “a small, overcrowded boat” with “73 migrants, including women and children, … drifting … off the Thai resort town of Phuket, well short of their final destination of Malaysia.” The authorities reportedly “provided the refugees with food and supplies” and then arrested them for deportation back to “Burma by land.”

That may seem a step forward from the Abhisit policy of towing the boats back to sea and setting them adrift. However, sending them back to Burma, where they are subject to violent persecution in Arakan state is barely a step anywhere in terms of human rights.

Updates 1 & 2: There are now reports that this group has indeed been sent back out to sea. These reports were later refuted, and it was reported that the group had been trucked back to Burma.



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