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

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    Carry-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society, so here's the deal with pizza, Chinese food and what racism has to do with taking food to go

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora