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The five Rohingya men: four claimed they were shot at by the Thai military

Boatpeople Who Say They Witnessed Shooting Disappear North of Phuket

Monday, March 11, 2013
PHUKET: Concerns are held for the safety of five Rohingya boatpeople who vanished overnight from a Thai village where they were being sheltered.

Four of the five men last week told of an incident off the Andaman Sea coast north of Phuket in which members of the Thai military are alleged to have fired shots at defenceless boatpeople.

Up to 15 men disappeared after the shooting, say the boatpeople.

Residents in the Thai village corroborate what the men allege, adding that they all heard many gunshots and later helped to bury two of the dead.

Local fishermen say they saw other bodies in the water, but did not recover them.

The Thai villagers have been sheltering the boatpeople since the alleged shooting took place in pre-dawn darkness on the overloaded boat off a nearby island on February 22.

Today one of the residents in the village north of Phuket told Phuketwan: ''Last night the five men said they were going to the mosque to watch television about 9pm.

''We haven't seen them since. We are deeply concerned and want to know where they are. Local police say they have no knowledge of the men, or where they might be.''

Royal Thai Navy patrols were active close to the village over the weekend, acording to the villagers, intercepting and ''helping on'' two newly-detected boats containing an unknown number of Rohingya boatpeople.

Four of the men who had been given shelter in the village came off a boat that was detected off Thailand's coast on February 21.

Villagers were involved in feeding the 130 boatpeople when they were brought to shore at Surin island, a popular diving destination for Andaman coast holidaymakers.

A military vessel that was towing the Rohingya vessel towards a local fishing pier diverted to a more isolated part of the coast, the villagers told Phuketwan and a team from Australia's ABC television.

According to the four Rohingya, about 20 of the boatpeople were ordered to leave the large boat and board a second, much smaller vessel.

When some of the 20 resisted leaving their families and friends, a shot was fired into the air, the Rohingya said.

''And so we jumped,'' one of the Rohingya, a man named Refrik, told the television camera. ''That's when they opened fire on us, in the water.''

It is not clear what happened to a number of the men, who are still missing. The villagers say they buried two men, one of whom is said to have sustained a gunshot wound to the head.

Representatives of the Thai military have since denied the shooting of the fleeing swimmers, with one senior officer even saying that no such incident took place.

Villagers said today that police and Navy officers were also keen to trace the whereabouts of the missing men.

The Thai military's present policy is to ''help on'' boatloads of Rohingya towards ''a third country'' with water, food and other supplies if necessary, provided the boat does not land in Thailand.

Allegations have surfaced this year that people smugglers have been assisted off the Thai coast by some as-yet-unnamed members of the Thai military.

At the weekend another boat from Burma (Myanmar) containing 126 passengers - including 25 women and 40 children - was detected off Penang in Malaysia, the Bernama news agency reported.

Rohingya are fleeing Burma in thousands in flimsy boats provided by people smugglers.

Ethnic cleansing of the Muslims deprives the stateless Rohingya of their rights, of food and of humanitarian aid in the troubled state of Rakhine, where race-hate continues to flourish.

Television Report from ABC Australia


THE ABC learns of claims that the Thai military shot Rohingya asylum seekers fleeing conflict in western Burma.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-08/accusations-thai-military-shot-fleeing-refugees/4562006/

A military vessel connects with a Rohingya boat



Would-be refugees on a beach at Surin island


Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

gravatar

please pass the info to thai tv (channel 3) they usually
do something about it and the perpetrator get busted!
nearly every week the bangkok post mention and link stuff like that.

Posted by netizen on March 11, 2013 20:19

gravatar

Why is the western (European) media so quiet about all this? This happens practically just in front of a lot of western tourist eyes.

Posted by OJ on March 12, 2013 13:06

Editor Comment:

It's in an out-of-the-way part of Thailand so the mainstream media struggles to cover it. Some may even think it's not worth covering.

gravatar

Hi, I'm with Newspoint News Agency - may we please use your images of the men, with credit to you? Thanks.

Posted by asher wolf on March 12, 2013 17:44

Editor Comment:

best ask at editor@phuketwan.com

gravatar

This is the headline. As these men are now in MY.... seems it was inaccurate, was it simply sensationalism?

Posted by Media watcher on March 16, 2013 10:08

Editor Comment:

Oh, I see . . . when we wrote the article, it was correct . . . we updated the information as soon as we discovered what had transpired, as good journalists do. you want us to remove every article if circumstances change? Accurate records and history offend you, do they, media watcher? Don't you believe in libraries and archived information? How perverse.

As we wrote: ''The five Rohingya men who disappeared from the village one night last week are now safe in Malaysia and looking forward to starting new lives, the men have told villagers by telephone.''


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