Skin disease is rampant because the men were kept in animal pens, according to activists.
The men, first ''rescued'' by Thai authorities from traffickers in January 2013, were then confined for months in cramped Immigration cells where they could not exercise or even stretch out.
Over weeks and months, their limbs began to atrophy.
Officially ''deported,'' the men found themselves trucked to the port of Ranong and delivered to the human traffickers who shipped them south again to the same area where they had been held in secret jungle camps 12 months earlier.
''When Thai officials raided the camps recently to apprehend more than 700 people, they left these 24 men behind in the jungle,'' said Isma-Aen Mat-Adam, of the Rohingya Help Network in Thailand.
''It is not hard to see why. These men had been confined in Immigration cells so long they could not walk. In some cases, they also could not move their arms above their shoulders.''
It was left to local Muslims to rescue the 24 unwanted men. They are now being rehabilitated by the villagers.
Locals were shocked by the animal-style corrals in which the men were being held and by the skin disease that they are now trying to contain and heal, using herbal remedies.
Meanwhile, as the men regain use of their limbs, it's believed the other 700 boatpeople are being detained by Immigration officials in and around the town of Sadao, close to the Thai-Malaysia border.
A substantial proportion are thought to be from Bangladesh and those with identification will be sent back there.
The Rohingya, officially classified as ''Burmese Muslims,'' are stateless and cannot be returned to Burma. So they are likely to be ''deported'' and recycled yet again into the trafficking system.
The 24 men who are now regaining use of their limbs may turn out to be the fortunate ones, if they manage to stay out of reach of Thai officials.
They may eventually make their own way across the border to Malaysia. That was their original intention, more than 12 months ago.
This is just beyond belief that something like this can be allowed to happen
Posted by sky on February 9, 2014 18:39