Thailand must get its act together, or face the consequences!
Posted by terres on January 24, 2009
Burmese and Bangladeshi migrants were set adrift at sea by Thai military forces
Survivors claim that about 1,000 Myanmar refugees, mostly from the Rohingya ethnic minority from western Burma, were towed out to sea and abandoned on boats without engines by Thailand’s navy. Human rights groups say refugees were forced to climb aboard the boats when Thai military threw four of them into the sea. At least 300 migrants are missing, presumed drowned.
Indian Coast Guards help refugees off a barge in the Andaman islands, India, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. The Thai navy stands accused of forcing several hundred migrants onto a barge in the middle of the ocean, where some 300 later drowned. More than 100 were rescued by Indian authorities in the remote Andaman islands. (AP Photo/Indian Coast Guard, handout).
The Rohingya are a stateless ethnic group that fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Burma where they are often used by the military regime as forced labor.
Thousands of Bangladeshis and Rohingyas leave Bangladesh each year to find work in Malaysia. They risk their lives aboard ramshackle boats and rafts to Thailand then overland to Malaysia.
“Two migrants told a refugees’ advocacy group they were among hundreds detained and beaten by Thai authorities on a remote island and abandoned in the Indian Ocean in boats with no engines,” Associated Press reported.
“It was the second time the group has released testimony from Bangladeshi and Rohingya illegal migrants who allege the Thai navy has left hundreds of them at sea twice since December. About 300 are believed to have drowned in one of the incidents.”
The refugees say they were were headed from Bangladesh to Thailand when Thai naval gunboats intercepted their boats on or about December 27, 2008. They, together with hundreds of other refugees, were detained and taken to a deserted Thai island in the Andaman Sea, where they “survived on banana leaves and handfuls of rice and were beaten by guards whom they identified as Thai security forces.”
Having initially categorically denied the human rights breaches, the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has since said his officials will investigate the accusations.
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