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Prostitution - sometimes involving underage females - accompanies the fishing industry all along the Andaman Sea coast north of Phuket

Arrest of Burmese Sex Workers Complicates Life at Shelter: More Rohingya Flee, Amnesty Issues Statement

Monday, July 15, 2013
PHUKET: Ten young Burmese women, six of them underage, have been arrested in raids on a floating sex farm and a land-based brothel north of Phuket, Phuketwan has learned.

A 14-year-old apprehended in the raids told officers from the Department of Special investigations and Marine Police that her sister, aged 16, had been sold to a bar in southern Phuket, where she was still working.

The 16-year-old was subsequently apprehended in a raid on the bar, held briefly at a family shelter on Phuket, then moved on to another shelter in the province of Surat Thani.

The series of raids took place last week. Arrests of the 10 young women at the floating sex farm and the land-based camp took place north of the port of Kuraburi, in Phang Nga province, north of Phuket.

The 10 young women were taken to a government-run family shelter, where their arrival caused a disturbance among about 60 Rohingya women and children who had been held there since January.

The Muslim Rohingya women and children, who had just begun to mark the fasting month of Ramadan, found themselves sharing the facility with the group of young Burmese women, mostly dressed in skimpy shorts.

Either by coincidence or as a result of the arrival of the Burmese women, 10 Rohingya fled the shelter, in the coastal holiday centre of Khao Lak, early today.

Late last week, a Rohingya woman who is nine months pregnant and had a booking to give birth at a Phuket hospital, fled the shelter with two other women and four children.

It is not known whether traffickers, who live in the surrounding area and have previously enticed women and children to flee, played a part in last week's escape or today's getaway.

In most cases, traffickers ask 60,000 baht per adult to transfer Rohingya south across the border with Malaysia.

Among the 10 who fled today were two women who had previously absconded last month, only to find themselves held captive for several days by an alleged trafficker and a local policeman. The officer has since been dismissed from the Thai police force.

A third woman who claimed to have been raped repeatedly during last month's abduction is among the Rohingya remaining at the centre, with her two children.

The three women all have husbands living in Malaysia and are known to be anxious to join them.

With the two women going over the wall from the shelter again today, abduction charges against the alleged rapist may be cast into doubt.

People trafficking of different kinds is endemic along the Andaman coast, either involving boatloads of Rohingya or Burmese seeking a more prosperous life. Trafficking is largely ignored by authorities, except for renegade officers from several law enforcement arms who are sometimes directly involved.

The case against the owner of the floating sex farm and the land-based brothel is unlikely to be pursued.

The young Burmese women are understood to have told investigators that they were working as prostitutes of their own free will.

They have said they would prefer to be sent back to their families in Burma rather than be obliged to stay in Thailand as witnesses in a court case over underage trafficking.

It is believed that both brothels relied for customers on the large number of fishing trawlers operating along the Andaman Sea coast between Kuraburi and Ranong, many of them crewed by Burmese.

Amnesty International issued a statement today about the Rohingya rape case. The media release reads as follows:

THAI AUTHORITIES must ensure the investigation into the alleged rape of a Rohingya asylum-seeker from Burma (Myanmar) is impartial and that all those involved, including the police, are held accountable in a trial that meets international standards of fairness.

Thailand has a responsibility to ensure effective protection, both in law and practice, of asylum-seekers and migrants arriving at its shores and living within its borders.

On 27 May 2013, three Rohingya women and two girls, aged 9 and 12, left a government shelter in Phang Nga province to join two men who promised to take them to Malaysia to reunite with their husbands and other relatives in exchange for payment.

One of the men was later identified as a police officer stationed in Khao Lak, Phang Nga province and the other was an undocumented Rohingya man from Myanmar. Between 9 and 11 June 2013, the Rohingya man allegedly held one of the women in a secluded location and repeatedly raped her.

During a visit to Phang Nga province in southern Thailand on 1 July 2013, Amnesty International confirmed that the Rohingya man is currently detained and charged with rape, human trafficking, and being in Thailand without documents.

He has denied the charges and claims that his boss is a police officer. The Thai police officer involved in this case was a Senior Sergeant.

He was arrested on 28 June 2013 and charged for his involvement in human trafficking and abuse of his position. He has since been released from detention on bail and dismissed from the police force.

This case highlights the risks that asylum-seekers in Thailand face at the hands of potential human traffickers and as a result of their lack of legal protection as refugees.

Thailand does not recognise refugees in its domestic law and is not party to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Without legal protection, asylum-seekers are subject to arrest, detention, and deportation in Thailand and are at greater risk of exploitation and abuse, particularly by human traffickers.

Asylum-seekers who have been abused or exploited in Thailand, including these women, must be provided with full and equal access to the justice mechanisms in Thailand, including access to legal representation and an independent interpreter.

The accused in this case should also be afforded legal safeguards in accordance with Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party.

Moreover, Amnesty International urges Thai authorities to diligently and thoroughly investigate all reports of human trafficking, including allegations of involvement in trafficking networks by Thai authorities.

This case is not the first report of potential involvement of Thai officials in human trafficking.

In late January 2013 the Royal Thai Army suspended, but then reinstated and transferred a Lieutenant Colonel and a Lieutenant to other locations in Thailand following allegations of their involvement with human traffickers in the south.

Charges were not brought against them. Officials found to be complicit in human trafficking should be immediately suspended from their duties and prosecuted in a fair trial.

The three women and two girls involved in the Phang Nga case have been living at a government shelter since January 2013, along with more than 55 other women and children asylum-seekers.

They are among thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim minority from Myanmar's Rakhine state, who have fled human rights abuses and severe discrimination in Myanmar and arrived in Thailand in small boats in late 2012 and early 2013.

On 25 January 2013, the Thai authorities announced that humanitarian assistance would be provided for six-months to Rohingya in Thailand. This period is set to expire in late July 2013.

In addition to the hundreds of Rohingya women and children being held in Thai government-run shelters, more than 1500 Rohingya men have been detained in overcrowded and ill-equipped immigration centres throughout Thailand's southern provinces since January 2013.

Amnesty International recently raised concerns about the conditions of detention in the immigration facilities in an Open Letter to the Royal Thai Government on 10 June 2013, highlighting recent deaths.

On 4 July 2013, two further deaths were reported from the immigration facility in Songkhla province, bringing the total number of deaths of Rohingya men in detention to seven since January 2013.

The continued detention of Rohingya asylum-seekers and migrants in immigration detention centres and shelters is a violation of the right to liberty as guaranteed in the ICCPR.

The conditions of detention for Rohingya men, in particular, do not meet the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The Royal Thai Government should release asylum-seekers and migrants who are detained in violation of international law and ensure the conditions of detention comply with international law and standards.

Thailand should also establish a national mechanism to ensure that all individuals who have fled persecution in their country of origin and wish to seek asylum have access to a full, effective and fair procedure to assess their asylum claims.

Thousands of Rohingya left Myanmar in boats heading for Thailand and Malaysia following violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Rakhine state that started in June 2012. The violence led to considerable deaths and injuries as well as widespread destruction of property and displacement of people.

While both communities were affected in Myanmar, the majority of victims were Rohingya. Most of the 140,000 individuals currently displaced in locations throughout Rakhine state are Rohingya.

The Rohingya are not recognised as an official ethnic group by the Myanmar authorities and continue to be discriminatorily denied equal access to citizenship. Their freedom of movement and rights to study, work, marry, and have a family are restricted to various degrees.

Amy A. Smith
Myanmar/Thailand Researcher
Asia Pacific Program
Amnesty International

Comments

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"Prostitution - sometimes involving underage females - accompanies the fishing industry all along the Andaman Sea coast north of Phuket" --- Phuket left your radar, here? Even if pointing on the fishing industry, minimum put the Rassada area onto your list. The 'wanich-area' is connected to the fishing industry. In case you don't wanna go with Soi 11, in this article.

Posted by Anonymous on July 16, 2013 08:35


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