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Vice Admiral Boonchai Marinpong: 'help on' with human rights

Phuket Plan Set for Six Andaman Provinces to 'Help On' Boatpeople

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
PHUKET: Phuket's Royal Thai Navy chiefs have briefed officials from six provinces on the plan for dealing with Rohingya boatpeople this sailing season, which begins next month.

Today's meeting at Phuket Royal City Hotel drew together officials with Andaman Sea involvement from six provinces - Phuket, Phang Nga, Ranong, Krabi, Trang and Satun.

In past sailing seasons - between October and April - boatpeople have made it to land in Thailand all along the coast, with hundreds of would-be refugees coming ashore north and south of Phuket.

One boat landed on a small beach alongside a Phuket five-star resort in January, the latest of several boats that have been abandoned on Phuket.

However, the aim this sailing season will be to keep all boats at sea, Vice Admiral Boonchai Marinpong, Deputy Commander of Region 3, told today's meeting.

Even if the passengers in the boats make it to shore, they are no longer processed through Immigration in the way unwanted arrivals were once all processed.

All authority over policy now resides once again with the Internal Security Operations Command, which is responsible for protecting Thailand's borders.

The new policy is to ''help on'' the Rohingya, Vice Admiral Boonchai told representatives from Marine Police, Customs, Fisheries, and Marine Office 5.

''We aim to assist the boatpeople and treat them in accordance with conventions covering human rights,'' he said. ''Problems along the Andaman Sea coast are not too great.''

The ''help on'' policy involves intercepting the boats at sea and supplying the boatpeople with food and water, fuel, mechanical and medical assistance as required.

Isoc believes that because of the violence in Burma earlier this year in which many Rohingya had their homes burned to the ground, more people are likely to be putting to sea this coming sailing season, with women and children probably making the perilous voyage for the first time.

Vice Admiral Boonchai told the gathering that it was important to have a coordianted approach across all six Andaman provinces, which had been divided up into three zones.

Phuket and Phang Nga constitute Zone A (where the Royal Navy has bases), Ranong is Zone B and Zone C is Krabi, Trang and Satun.

The aim is likely to be to intercept boats where possible off Ranong, the province closest to Burma.

The boatpeople usually have no navigational aids and simply follow the coast down from Burma, putting ashore when they exhaust their meagre supplies of water and food.

Often they are sunburned and dehydrated after seven or 10 days in an open boat. The ''help on'' policy saves expenditure on the detention of large numbers of unwanted Rohingya who cannot be returned to Burma because they are denied citizenship there.

As stateless wanderers in search of a better life, no country chooses to accept them for fear more will come.

Vice Admiral Boonchai said that the six provinces were also now making plans for the arrival of the Asean Economic Community in 2015. Part of their brief would be to be on the lookout for smugglers carrying drugs or illicit fuel.

''Thai fishermen once caused problems by fishing in the waters of neighboring countries but these days the fishermen from neighboring countries are often found in Thai waters,'' he added.

A blueprint for cooperation between the six provinces on all maritime issues had been drawn up and delivered and was only awaiting the Thai government's approval, he said.

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Land of smiles, good buddists... help the Rohingya out to sea and maybe face certain death, very nice thailand, show the world the real thailand.

Posted by dbate_me on September 12, 2012 09:08


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