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One more push . . . Rohingya ''helped on'' from Phuket on Tuesday

Nameless, Stateless But Alive, A Newborn North of Phuket Awaits His Fate

Thursday, January 31, 2013
PHUKET: A newborn boy gulped his first air off Thailand the other day on board a Rohingya boat, in one short breath alive but nameless and stateless and unwanted by anyone, except perhaps his parents.

What drives a woman in the final days of a pregnancy to join more than 100 others, dressed in only the clothes they wear, on a flimsy vessel on a perilous journey into the unknown?

What fate awaits her small son, a child with no nation to call his, no government to help him in his hour of need, no generous other land to say ''come, come, we will shelter you, we will raise you as one of our own?''

What were the thoughts of the others on board as the number of passengers rose, with one final mother's push, from 108 to 109, all of them, young and old, newborn or middleaged, equally stateless and unwanted?

How is it that in the 21st Century, the nations of the world can allow an outlaw country to dispose of its unwanted people by first persecuting them, then pushing them into the sea?

Do you know, dear reader, that in 2014, Burma will be the nation that chairs the Association of South East Asian Nations?

Yes, the race haters and the ethnic cleansers of the horrid little new ''democracy'' called Burma will chair the body that represents the entire region, displaying their taste for power at any price, for economic prosperity without tolerance, for governance without a heart.

Where will the young boy, born at sea in January, 2013, find himself in 2014, when the country his parents have the misfortune to call home achieves its greatest honor?

We wonder, and the world must surely wonder.

As of today the boy was in care ashore in Thailand, having been apprehended on the boat of his birth off Surin island, a landmark destination for divers holidaying in Thailand.

Thai nurses in the province of Phang Nga reckoned him to be eight days old, in good condition but perhaps having lost a little of his birth weight of around 3.2 kilos.

He stretched to 48 centimentres and appeared healthy, if in need of a good clean in fresh, running water.

In Bangkok, the talks aimed at resolving the Rohingya issue, a feature of every day now, continued. Thailand's Foreign Ministry, the Army's Internal Security Operations Command, Non-Government Organsations, ambassadors and envoys all seek a solution to the unhappy exodus of Rohingya from Burma.

Perhaps this year will finally be their year. We met one boat that arrived off Phuket on January 1, announcing 2013 as once again the year of the Asian boatperson.

We chased those 73 men, women and children as they were quickly trucked off Phuket, and - according to locals in Phang Nga - transferred into the hands of traffickers for a fee of 1.5 million baht.

It was the first boat independent sources had seen carrying women and children, a measure of increasing desperation.

Since then, the secret camps of traffickers on the Thai-Malaysia border have been raided and hundreds of Rohingya have been ''rescued.''

Now, in limbo, in police cells, in detention centres, they await a decision about their futures.

Since then, hundreds of others have arrived by boat off Phuket and the Andaman coast; 88 on January 17, 115 on January 18, 116 on January 19, 179 on January 22, 96 on January 25 . . . 108 plus one on January 27.

Others were not so fortunate, or perhaps more fortunate, depending on how you look at it. We saw 205 men and boys ''helped on'' at sea with food and water by the Royal Thai Navy off Phuket on Tuesday.

They gave a loud, generous handclap of applause to their helpers. Unlike the other hundreds in limbo in Thailand, the 205 are on their way to a new future, somewhere, soon.

And the boy, barely a week old, newborn at sea in Thai waters, wanted by no country?

We wonder. And the world must surely wonder.

Comments

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Editor, your continuous coverage of the plight of the Rohingya is the best damn journalism I've seen in some time. Please keep the reports coming, as I, too, am trying to help these poor people.

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2013 15:41

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the picture of the overcrowded boats speaks volumes on its own.

Posted by slickmelb on January 31, 2013 20:36

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What drives a woman in the final days of a pregnancy to join more than 100 others, dressed in only the clothes they wear, on a flimsy vessel on a perilous journey into the unknown?

I am guessing what drives them is a level of fear we can never come close to comprehending and a level of hope that ANYTHING is better than where they left.

I am thankful for the small mercy of another clear night with no strong winds or waves for the hundreds, possibly thousands of others at sea at this very moment.

Shame on you Burma!

Posted by Mr Man on February 1, 2013 06:34

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Speechless ... and a little teary eyed.

Posted by James on February 1, 2013 13:32

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'How is it that in the 21st century, the nations of the world can allow an outlaw country to persecute its unwanted people and then push them out to sea ?'

Very good question.

My guess is that high end politicians of every country are corrupt as sin (not in a 'slip me an envelope' way). More in a power hungry, don't wanna committ political suicide to help the poor people kind of way. Very sad. I'm guessing that's the reason for Burma's heroine's defeaning silence.

I echo the commenters above. Excellent reporting PW. Thank you.

Posted by James on February 1, 2013 19:42

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@ James. The Burmese Heroine is of course a Theravada Buddhist by religion. It stands to reason that she does not hold the plight of the Rohingya, (Muslim religion), in any high regard. These Rohingya peoples will continue to be unwanted brethren of the earth, so long as they breathe air.

Posted by Robin on February 2, 2013 10:57


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