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Boatpeople give their accounts on Saturday evening, then pray

UPDATE Arrested Rohingya North of Phuket Guarded by Volunteers in Thailand Human Trafficking Bust

Saturday, October 11, 2014
UPDATING All Day, Every Day

RESCUED boatpeople were being interviewed by officials on Saturday afternoon after being fed and showered in Takuapa, north of Phuket. Some showed wounds, inflicted the men said by their ''kidnappers.'' Phuketwan reporters were on the spot with a reliable translator and helping officials to record the accounts of the 53 men, one by one, and looking forward to greeting other reporters from Phuket.

Original Report

PHUKET: A large group of trafficked boatpeople is being held by local authorities north of Phuket to protect them from local police and ensure their rights are upheld.

According to one of the boatpeople who spoke in English by telephone to Phuketwan, the group of 53 had been among 310 men, women and children ''kidnapped'' by Thai brokers.

At least 100 more Rohingya and Bangladeshis are still hidden on an island off the holiday coast of Thailand's Andaman region, north of Phuket, he said.

Local officials have taken the apprehended boatpeople into custody and called in human rights lawyers because of concerns that the police will not recognise the boatpeople as asylum seekers and treat them instead as illegal migrants.

The case is likely to bring to the attention of Thailand's government to the continuing human trafficking off Thailand's coast as increasing numbers of Rohingya flee persecution in Burma, also known as Myanmar, where they are stateless and being subjected to ethnic cleansing.

The group of 53 men was arrested today at 4am by the Director of the Takuapa district, Manit Paktean, and a team of volunteers. The men were waiting in bushes alongside the main road through the large coast township of Takuapa.

Two men alleged to be traffickers fled when the authorities swooped.

Others from the same trafficking boat had already been trucked south towards the border with Malaysia, the asylum seeker, aged 22, told Phuketwan.

''I fled from Cox's Bazaar (in Bangladesh) and there were 310 people on the boat,'' he said. ''We quickly realised we had been kidnapped and were going to be sold on. I was beaten on the boat and in the camp as well.''

Many uninhabited islands dot the coast of the province of Phang Nga, north of Phuket, allowing human trafficking to flourish over the past few years as increasing numbers of Rohingya have fled. Locals and outlaw men in uniform are believed to have turned to trading in people as a highly profitable source of income.

The asylum seeker told Phuketwan he had become desperate after a lifetime as an unwanted refugee in a Rohingya camp in Bangladesh. He left behind a one-year-old child, his wife and his mother.

In a post on the man's Facebook page, he wrote: ''I ask you, Government of Burma says, 'This is not your land.'

''Government of Bangladesh says 'This is not your land. So I ask UNHCR [the UN refugee body] I ask Burma and Bangladesh, to please tell me, 'Where do I belong? Where is my house? Where can I go?

''I do not want to be a refugee any more. I just want to live in peace.''

A campaign to drive Rohingya from their land in Burma's Rakhine state began with the torching of villages by their Buddhist neighbors in mid-2012. An increasing stream of men, women and children have been trafficked by sea and through secret jungle camps in southern Thailand since then.

It's still a mystery as to how traffickers trading in so many thousands of people manage to evade all the authorities in Thailand. The country was relegated to Tier 3, the lowest level, in the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report this year.

Concern continues to mount among human rights groups as Burma pursues an inhumane policy that fails to mask its campaign to obliterate all Rohingya.

In the latest development, increasing numbers of men from Burma's Rohingya Muslim minority are being arrested and tortured because of alleged ties to a militant Islamic organisation, according to a rights group.

The Rohingya have previously been accused of travelling south to join the violent insurgency movement in southern Thailand. Thai officials investigated and found that the boatpeople were genuine asylum seekers who were only interested in finding sanctuary in Malaysia.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


"... called in human rights lawyers because of concerns that the police will not recognise the boatpeople as asylum seekers ..."

Faith in humanity restored!

Posted by Lana on October 11, 2014 11:10


This whole Rohingya refuse thing is getting out of hands. It became to big to be handled locally. It is time the UN takes over and work out that this people can go to Pakistan or Bangladesh. There could be their future, not southwards. Southwards misery is waiting for them.

Posted by Kurt on October 11, 2014 13:31


faith in humanity restored, but not faith in the Thai Police force

Posted by Anonymous on October 11, 2014 17:31


"He left behind a one-year-old child, his wife and his mother."

And because of politics, religion and that over-used word corruption, these people continue to be marginalized - with few voices calling out for justice -

So well done for keeping your 'feet in it,' even at a tenuous time for the very existence of such a transparent medium as Phuketwan.

Rohingyan's are also grateful to certain Thai Authorities for bravely advocating on their behalf, but not so much to other certain Thai "Authorities" to be certain.

Posted by farang888 on October 12, 2014 02:28


can i ask a question
what have the roghingha actually done wrong?
ive read that the so called bhuddists have slaugerd them and the thai so called authorities have turned them into slaves
what have they rohings done wrong?

Posted by ayjay on October 12, 2014 07:45

Editor Comment:

Buddhists in Rakhine, unlike those in Phuket, see Muslims as a threat. Tolerance seems to be missing. Before democracy arrived in Burma, these resentments were mostly suppressed. Becoming more democratic has unleashed religious hatred and bigotry.


Twitter just sent me an email saying that this story is among most popular,with Veronica Pedrosa and Andy Hall tweeting on it.

Posted by Sue on October 12, 2014 20:21


The hidden genocide of Burma breeding more more Rohingya boat people and polute the ASEAN region. The UN including Thailand should not sideline this fearful humanitarian crisis.Involve traffickers ,kidnappers and trawlers /ship owners must be trace out immediately and book them for trail .The world should eye on Rohingya tragedy in their motherland and warn Burma actors to halt it urgent .

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,President of Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) on October 13, 2014 14:33


This's our sincere advice to the Thai authority and civil society to keep the rescued Rohingyas out of reach of so called Rohingya translators/interpreters and social /polical workers. It is learnt that some of so called Rohingyas live in Thailand and overseas also directly or indirectly involve human trafficking.They try their best to reach the Rohingya boat people through various way.The international and national news agencies are reqested to hire any Rohingyas as translators/interpreters from Thailand .We do recomment to contact UNHCR ,IRC and IOM to get trusted and skilled translators/interpreters in this feild. The genocidal action is double now in the name of CITIZEN STATUS VARIFICATION . It be full scale continue to divert public mind from coming general election in 2015.

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,President of Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) on October 13, 2014 16:38

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