News / Asia

Report: Thailand Selling Rohingya to Human Traffickers

A woman and her children visit their husband and dad of Myanmar Rohingya Muslims at the court's detention house in Medan, North Sumatra, Dec. 4, 2013, before the verdict.
A woman and her children visit their husband and dad of Myanmar Rohingya Muslims at the court's detention house in Medan, North Sumatra, Dec. 4, 2013, before the verdict.
VOA News
A news agency investigation says Thai officials have been secretly allowing Rohingya Muslim refugees to be dumped off to human traffickers, who hold them for ransom under brutal conditions.

The report by the Reuters news agency said Thai immigration officials were often complicit in the policy toward the Rohingya, who are escaping unrest and religious persecution in neighboring Burma.

It said many of the refugees were told by officials they were being deported back to Burma. Only after they were out at sea, did they realize they had been sold to human traffickers.

The survivors say they were then sent to camps along Thailand's remote border with Malaysia. Many were said to be beaten, and some even killed. They were only allowed to leave if their relatives paid thousands of dollars in ransom.

Thai police officials told Reuters they have heard about the camps, but say they are doing nothing at this time to investigate them. They also acknowledged that Thai officials have in the past benefited from Rohingya smuggling operations.

Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, a Rohingya rights group, tells VOA the camps have been around for a while. But she says conditions there are getting worse, likely because of the rising population.

She says her organization has talked to many refugees at the camps who were beaten in an attempt to extort about $2,000 from family members.

"They are given a mobile phone to call relatives in Myanmar, in Malaysia, wherever, to collect this money. And when they are making that call, they are beaten up so they will scream and cry so the relatives will feel the urge to collect the money as soon as possible."

Lewa says it is not clear what happens to those whose families cannot afford the ransom.

"The people we have met had paid [the ransom], so they don't know what happened to those left behind. We understand that quite a few of them would have been sold, either to a fishing troller or to plantations."

Thailand has come under criticism in the past for its policy toward Rohingya. Many have been deported or turned away at sea. Others are in government detention centers described as overcrowded and inhumane.

The refugees are fleeing violence in Burma's western Rakhine, or Arakan, state, where sectarian violence has killed at least 240 people and displaced 140,000 others, mainly Rohingya, in recent months.

In addition to the violence, Rohingya are denied citizenship and other basic rights in Burma, where they are considered immigrants from Bangladesh. The United Nations considers them one of the world's most persecuted minority groups.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid