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Phuket and Thai Military Ready for the Rohingya Ride of Their Lives

Friday, July 20, 2012
PHUKET: Huge numbers of boatpeople are expected to flee Burma this coming sailing season as the Burmese government persecutes its unwanted Rohingya outcasts in a manner that falls just short of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The Thai military is already making preparations to make sure the would-be refugees are ''helped on'' and do not come ashore on the holiday island of Phuket or along the Andaman Sea coast.

Colonel Manat Kongpan, who heads Thailand's Internal Security Operations Command, Fourth Region, said today that he had been training local villagers on Thailand's Andaman islands to detect and ward off Rohingya boats.

While the boatloads in the past have always contained only adult men and teenage boys, Colonel Manat expects that the lives of women and children will be put at risk for the first time when the sailing season begins in a few weeks.

''The crackdown by the Burmese government on the Rohingya has been very hard,'' Colonel Manat said today by telephone from his base at Ranong, on the border with Burma, which is also known as Myanmar.

''There is no doubt that many more people will be coming,'' he said. ''We expect there will be women and children, too.''

For the first time, independent sources have this week confirmed that levels of destruction and upheaval inflicted on the Rohingya in a spate of sectarian violence have been far greater than the Burmese government is prepared to admit.

Chris Lewa, the director of the Arakan Project, said in London that hundreds of Rohingya had been killed and as many as 100,000 driven from their burned-out homes into open-air camps.

Burmese president Thein Sein has actually admitted point-blank that the Rohingya are not wanted in Burma and that refugee camps or deportation are what can solve the issue.

Ms Lewa, a long-time observer of the region, says it is evident that the recent communal disruption in Burma's Rakhine region ''has now turned into state-sponsored violence targeting the Rohingya.''

The continuing persecution of the 800,000 Rohingya comes as virtually the entire world welcomes Burma's more liberal approach and potentially enriching trade and tourism deals with the once-reviled nation, where many of the junta generals who once ran the country now wear business suits.

Burma's nine immediate neighbors in the Asean community are leading the rush to invest and, as always, offer no help or hope to South East Asia's most downtrodden and oppressed group.

Asean Secretary General Dr Surin Pitsuwan, a former Thai foreign minister, mumbled something about ''human rights'' when Phuketwan spoke to him recently on Phuket about the issue but put forward no encouragement to intervention, condemnation of Burma, or a solution.

The Burmese government has never attempted to stop the Rohingya departing, either across the border to neighboring Bangladesh, where thousand fled in the last wave of violence, or by ricketty boats in dangerous seas south to Thailand and Malaysia.

In January 2009, Phuketwan and the South China Morning Post newspaper exposed the inhumane ''pushbacks'' that became the Thai government's policy after the number of boatpeople arriving in Thailand in the previous sailing season tallied almost 5000.

Those days have gone. The Thai military now ''helps on'' Rohingya with food and water towards their chosen destination, provided it is not in Thailand.

But Colonel Manat reports that 2706 Rohingya in boats were ''helped on'' last sailing season, a dramatic increase once more. And he fears that from October to April, there could be many thousands of additional Rohingya sailing past Phuket and the Andaman holiday coast.

The Burmese government, looking with anticipation to improving the lot of its citizens by reconnecting with an eager world, will be only too pleased to help the unwanted and stateless Rohingya on their way, out of Burma.

Comments

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Why are the Rohingyas so unwanted by their countrymen, the Bangladeshis and the Burmese?
Frankly their numbers are just too huge for any country to accept them, they just keep coming. It's not fair for any government to accept illegal immigrants. Taxpayers money are taken to feed and clothe and shelter them. It's a terrible cycle and has to go back to the basis of where did they come from and how can they go back there?
PErhaps I'm callous, but for such an oppressed generation of people, they have no issues reproducing the next generation. I read about a father of 14 kids who is begging to stay on, why have 14 kids when you cannot afford it and know for sure they will never have an easy life?
Is letting them pass by without taking them in a form of brutality too?
I mean I would give a homeless guy food and maybe some money to last him on but I would never invite him home to stay. Is this wrong too?

Posted by May on July 20, 2012 17:14

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Why nobody complain when the USA catch and push back the illegal Mexican immigrants to Mwxico?

Posted by Porton on August 8, 2012 16:14

Editor Comment:

Mexicans are not stateless, and usually not persecuted by the Mexican government.


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