News / Asia

Fleeing Rohingya Refugees Fired Upon, Says Rights Group

VOA News
Human Rights Watch is calling for an investigation into an incident in which the Thai navy allegedly shot at a group of Rohingya "boat people," killing at least two of the asylum seekers.

The New York-based group Wednesday said its investigation revealed that Thai sailors last month opened fire on about 20 Rohingya refugees during a mission to push the group back out to sea. Thailand rejects the allegation.

Tens of thousands of ethnic Rohingya Muslims have fled Burma in recent months to escape sectarian violence and state-sponsored discrimination.

Thailand has refused to accept most of the refugees. It has instead ordered its navy to intercept the boats and provide the passengers with food and supplies before sending them on their way.

Human Rights Watch has criticized the "push back" policy, saying Thailand is failing to provide the Rohingya asylum seekers with the protections required under international law.

Thai foreign ministry spokesperson Manasvi Srisodapol denied the existence of such a policy as described by Human Rights Watch and many other organizations. In an interview with VOA, he also insisted the Thai navy did not fire at the Rohingya.

"We do not encourage the use of force or any conduct that would be harmful to the safety of the people," he said. "We will also treat those in custody in line with relevant Thai laws, taking into account relevant humanitarian considerations."

Thailand's navy last week also strongly denied the allegations, saying the sailors would have had no reason to shoot at the Rohingya.

In the February 22 case, Human Rights Watch says around 20 Rohingya jumped overboard toward land to escape the custody of Thai sailors, who reportedly had pushed their drifting vessel back to sea off the coast of Phang Nga province.

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that the Thai sailors opened fire on the refugees in the water, killing at least two. Four others say they managed to swim to shore and were hidden by Thai villagers. The fate of the rest of the passengers is unknown.

Human Rights Watch wants Thailand to investigate the incident and prosecute those found responsible. The group's Asia director Brad Adams said that "Rohingya fleeing Burma should be given protection, not shot at."

The United Nations says the Rohingya people are among the world's most persecuted minority groups. They are denied citizenship and many other basic rights in Burma, where they are regarded as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

Vivian Tan, a spokesperson for the United Nations refugee agency, says that she cannot confirm the details of the February incident. But she said her agency is concerned about the fate of Rohingya refugees.

"U.N.H.C.R. has been advocating that people fleeing persecution should be able to be processed in the country or territory where they arrive.  So, they should not be pushed off for sure," said Tan. "They should definitely not be sent back to a place where their lives could be in danger."

An outbreak of sectarian violence in Burma's Arakan, or Rakhine state, between Rohingya Muslims and majority Buddhists has killed dozens and displaced hundreds of thousands in recent months.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'i
X
Scott Stearns
September 23, 2014 10:52 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video US, Gulf Allies Strike Islamic State Militants in Syria

United States forces have carried out strikes against Islamic State or ISIL militant positions in Syria - the first time Western forces have taken action on Syrian soil. Five U.S. allies from the Gulf joined the military action. Local reports suggest dozens of militants were killed. The U.S. also carried out unilateral missile strikes against a Syria-based terror group which Washington says poses an imminent threat to the West. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Used to Kill Cancer Tumor

There is a new way of killing certain cancer tumors that allows the patient to go home on the same day. Surgeons at the Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California became the first doctors to use this procedure on a patient with the help of high intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, and new robotic technology. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in Five Countries

Hollywood stars Alicia Keys, Jennifer Garner and 30 others have voiced their support for a U.S.-backed initiative called "Let Girls Learn." The $231 million program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is aimed at ensuring public and quality education for girls worldwide. As VOA's Mariama Diallo reports, this new program will focus on five countries in Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Video

Video UN: Relocation of Bedouins in Israel Weakens Two-state Solution

Rural Bedouins living in disputed lands east of Jerusalem could soon find themselves forcibly relocated. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Jerusalem that while Israel defends the move as in the Bedouins’ best interests, the United Nations says the plan threatens the survival of the two-state solution with Palestinians.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Prolonged Drought Plagues SW Oklahoma Farmers

Parts of western Texas and southwestern Oklahoma have been in drought conditions for several years running and the deficit in rainfall has taken a heavy toll on cotton and grain production. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin says the state has suffered $2 billion in agricultural losses since 2011. There has been rain in recent weeks, but, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Altus, Oklahoma, for most farmers it has been too late.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid