News / Asia

Thailand to Deport Rohingya Muslim Asylum Seekers

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Thai authorities say Rohingya Muslim refugees allegedly fleeing sectarian violence and persecution in western Burma must be sent back to their homeland.

The 73 migrants, including women and children, were found drifiting in a small, overcrowded boat off the Thai resort town of Phuket, well short of their final destination of Malaysia.

Thai authorities intercepted the boat, which had been at sea for 13 days, and provided the refugees with food and supplies on Tuesday. But local media reported Wednesday they have been arrested and ordered to return to Burma by land.

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, says that Thailand should suspend any plan to deport the refugees until the United Nations refugee agency has a chance to determine whether they have legitimate claims for protection.

He says Thai authorities, who are reluctant to absorb migrant workers from neighboring countries, must come up with a better policy for dealing with boat people.

"For the first time, Thai authorities have intercepted a boat, filled up not with young Rohingya men seeking work in Malaysia, but families with young children and women," Sunai said. "They are traveling together claiming they are escaping persecution, human rights violations, and violence in their homeland."

Thai authorities do not accept boat people, but instead give them supplies to continue their often dangerous journeys to their final destination.

The result is often deadly. In 2008 and 2009, hundreds of Muslim Rohingya refugees are believed to have died after being turned away by Thailand.

Sunai says the problem is not going away, and that Thailand and other Southeast Asian nations must come up with a new policy to provide protection in coordination with U.N. agencies.

"We want Thailand to come up with a clear policy that recognizes Thailand's international obligations to protect asylum seekers and refugees," he said. "And in this case it is very clear that political violence, communal conflicts and human rights violations in Burma's Arakan state are getting worse and worse, and we expect there will be more Rohingya families traveling by sea in order to seek refuge in Southeast Asia."

The latest group of asylum seekers say there were headed for Malaysia, which has become a common destination for Rohingya refugees. On Sunday, about 450 Rohingya landed in Malaysia after a boat journey that left one person dead.

Rohingya are fleeing Burma's western Rakhine, or Arakan, state, where an outbreak of violence in recent months has killed dozens and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Rights groups accuse Burma's government of systematic persecution against members of the ethnic group, who are considered to be illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

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Comment Sorting
by: Haji:Mohammed Hassan from: ipoh perak,Malaysia
January 03, 2013 10:37 AM
This peoples are from arakan state of Myanmer{origin of Rohingya)
May be some body mixed from Bangla desh.Exsurely many many Bangla deshi coming to Malaysia by boat and they say they are Rohingya too.therefore we are requeisting to UNHCR Please select them befoure do anything.They bangla peoples selling name of Rohingya.if they peoples are from arakan(Rohingya) so please safe them on humanitarian ground.

by: Nguyen Tan Lon from: Hanoi
January 02, 2013 3:17 PM
The cruel countries on earth Thailand and Burma. Why you all have no mercy to let the Rohingya survive as Human Beings? You all from Thailand and Burma always claim as Buddhists but your mind is wicked=Mara.

by: lstmohican from: USA
January 02, 2013 8:25 AM
The neighboring country west of Rakhine state in Myanmar is Bangladesh, an Islamic country less than the size of Iowa but with a population of 160 million. During 1970 and 1971 Bangladesh independence war, the Pakistan army and their sympathizers committed genocide resulting in 10 million Bangladeshis seeking refuge in neighboring countries including Rakhine state with a population of 3 million. As far back as 1975, the then Bangladesh Ambassador to Myanmar Khwaja Mohammed Kaiser admitted that "there were upward of 1/2 million Bangalee (Bangladeshi) trespassers in Arakan (Rakhine state) whom the Burmese (Myanmar) had some right to eject.

He had implored the Burmese authorities not to press this issue during Bangladesh's present troubles [COUP of August and November 1975] and had been pleased that the Burmese had not taken advantage of his country's misfortune in this respect.” Recently, Bangladeshi, CNN and other news media have published numerous reports of Bengalis from Bangladesh illegally migrating eastwards by sea and land. Refer to CNN report of Nov 1, 2012, Khabar South Asia of Dec 24, 2012 and UNBConnect of Dec 27, 2012. Once they cross the border, they identify themselves as Rohingya to gain international sympathy and unquestioning acceptance by the media. The Government of Bangladesh has identified over 70 different Islamic terrorists groups including Islamic Rohingya Terrorists. In addition, approximately 12 to 17 million Bangladeshi immigrants have come to India illegally since the 1950s.

by: D Johnston from: Thailand
January 02, 2013 7:19 AM
These people really should be returned to Bangladesh as it is their true homeland.
In Response

by: Moh from: Uk
January 10, 2013 5:39 PM
Humans relocated to have a better life .....u people should return to u paradise .....when u found in any country other than u shit ass smelly county.
In Response

by: helena from: melbourne
January 03, 2013 7:31 AM
sorry i reported a comment and i meant to post one sorry please disregard. my point was that as these poeple are aubviously economic migrants en route to Australia through malaysia they should be turned back at the first instance it is well recognised by all of the relif agencies that the people who are most in need of refugee status are so poor they could never afford to pay the people traffickers.... they live meal to meal and day to day.. it is ofetn people with some means and status that can afford these large sums.. good on Thialand turn them back..

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