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Rohingya arrested in southern Thailand await return to the Burma border

Rohingya Trucked North: Checkpoint Exposes 127 in Minivan Convoy

Thursday, December 27, 2012
PHUKET: A total of 127 Rohingya have been arrested in southern Thailand and trucked back to the Thailand-Burma border.

Those held were in five minivans in a convoy bound for the Malaysian border crossing at Padang Besar in Songkhla province.

On December 24 a police-Army checkpoint in Satun province pulled over two of the vans, which each contained 22 men and boys.

The drivers of another three minivans fled after dropping off their passengers, who totalled 83.

The youngest of those arrested was a boy aged 10. Most of the captured Rohingya were teenagers or young men.

Hundreds are fleeing the Burmese state of Rakhine where thousands of homes have been torched since June in a simmering racial conflict between local residents and the Muslim Rohingya.

About 170 are reported to have been killed in the conflict, which has left thousands of Rohingya confined in displaced persons camps.

Many prefer to take their chances by paying people smugglers and fleeing by sea, with Malaysia as the target for most.

How the Rohingya arrested on December 24 got to Songkhla province in southern Thailand is not known. Part of their journey was probably made by sea.

Brokers on the Thai-Malaysia border are known to systematically transfer Rohingya south from camps hidden in plantations in Thailand with the connivance of officials in both countries.

The arrest of the 127 may have come because the officers at the checkpoint are not part of the system or rival brokers have perhaps fallen out.

The arrests were made by officers from Khuankalong police station in Satun, where Lieutenant Sompong Meechoo said local police were not part of any smuggling group.

''The Rohingya will be trucked straight back to Ranong,'' he said, referring to the Thai-Burma border port hundreds of kilometres to the north where the arrested men and boys could possibly have stopped off on their journey.

Because the arrested Rohingya are inevitably all men and boys, some reports speculate that they could be heading to join the insurgency in Thailand's south.

Thailand's Internal Security Operations Command has checked out these reports over several years but never found evidence to justify them.

Isoc tallies 2817 Rohingya arrested or ''helped on'' in Thailand in October and November.

Other experts in the deep south conflict say there has never been an instance where a single Rohingya has been killed or injured in incriminating circumstances in eight years of conflict.

Chris Lewa, director of the advocacy group Arakan Project, said: ''Rohingya only transit through Thailand on their way to Malaysia, helped on by Thai authorities.

''There has never been any evidence of Rohingya involvement in the deep South insurgency.

''Why should countries in the region repeatedly make these kinds of assumptions just because they are Muslims?''

The Rohingya are protective of their womenfolk, who seldom venture far from home. However, having a boy of 10 among the latest batch of arrests indicates some are becoming more desperate to flee Burma.

Hundreds of Rohingya are believed to be voyaging past the Andaman coast and the holiday island of Phuket this relatively tranquil October-April ''sailing season.''

Those apprehended on land north of Phuket are usually trucked quickly back to Ranong, often described as Burmese to reduce complications.

As stateless non-citizens, the Rohingya are not wanted back in Burma so they are usually delivered to people smugglers.

The smugglers demand extra payments and those who cannot meet the terms are usually put to work in fish factories or indentured to trawlers.

Earlier this month, Singapore refused to allow a Vietnamese cargo ship to dock with 40 Rohingya who survived a sinking in which 200 are thought to have drowned.

All of Burma's Asean neighbors continue to turn a blind eye to the tacit ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya now underway in Burma.

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The treatment of the Rohingya is not much different from what the Jews suffered in the 20th century Europe or the actions of the Serbs following the breakup of Yugoslavia.

They have already been denied human rights, being outcasts in their own country, persecuted for their religion and now sent to concentration camps.

Call them refugee camps if you want but surely we all remember images from the Nazi camps. Compare them to those from the Serbian run camps and they are frightingly similar.

I have yet to see any images from the Rohingya camps but maybe some brave journalist will get them for everyone to see.

I wish countries had the moral backbone to withhold investment until the Rohingya issue is amicably solved.

Posted by Andrew on December 27, 2012 17:20

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Andrew the Jews were German citizens and amongst the wealthy at the time so a very different situation. Even last week yet another multi million dollar settlement was made as the Nazi's stole Jews wealth. Even the Swiss banks opned up in the last decade. Completely opposite in money terms. It was also the largest genocide of all times. I do not think the two situations are comparable. The Rohingya are non citizens and poor and the numbers involved are much smaller. As I have said on this site before countries like Indonesia which is by far the largest in land mass over 2000 (two thousand) times the size of Singapore and also the biggest economy should be ashamed as they are also Muslim and should at least take a quota, so should Malaysia. Western countires have quotas for poor people look at the US. Asia is much more heartless.

Posted by Happy Farang on December 27, 2012 22:33

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I am sure all these Rohingya boat people are felt at the hands of human smugglers tomorrow after release from Immigration Detention Center (IDC) of Ranong with in two three days. The greedy human smugglers (so called agents ) are going to collect these people and bring them to their concentration camps to realize Thai Bath 60,000 -65,000 or Malaysia Ringit 6000 per head. The agent will inhumanly torture the victims till realize the said amount by calling relatives or known person. If some one has failed to meet the agent's requirement, then directly sell to fishing trawlers for one year or work for plantation.The victims are daily beaten till realize the said amount. They are served very poor food. Some inmates try to escape. The agent's muscle men severely torture if they found escaping people. Some die due to torture. Last week one was shot death (he is from Kawar Bill - Kyi Gan Byin) another four person were arrested by the police of Songkla province. He was shot by unkown person. The death body was sent to Hatjai hospital and finally buried nearby grave yard by our BRAT unit members. Naturally Thai authorities are helping to the boat people but the greedy agents commit criminal discrimination .The Thai government and UNHCR must work together to save these Helpless Rohingyas.
We thanks to Thai people who donated more than 60,000 bt to Brother Malekuslim) (A Thai M to serve this 127 victims during different police custody in Satun.
Please pray and do to solve this boat people problem permanently .Due to GENOCIDE in Arakan and denial entry to Bengladesh, the Rohingyas have to choose this risky journey. Many die on the way .

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,President,Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand,(BRAT) on December 28, 2012 04:38

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Andrew seems stranger about Rohingya's glorious History in Arakan.Rohingyas are ancient people of Arakan,Burma .Our forefathers were part of rulers of Arakan.We lost our Kingdom at that hands Burman on 31st December 1784. Actually present Burmese are occupiers of Arakan. Andrew is absolutely true that the RACISTS treat the Rohingyas worse than Hitler treated Jews. The regime took away our Nationality and treat us as if we are newcomers. Please watch "The hidden genocide documented by Phil Rees " at Al Jazeera TV.
Though we have thousands years of History in Arakan ,we love to live and die there. Present Rohingyas fleeing is due to government sponsored genocide.When we get protection every refugees must go back to Arakan.Please visit -http://www.rohingyathai.blogspot.com for more information.

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,President,Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand,(BRAT) on December 28, 2012 16:06

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Khun Maung,
What happened to the Jews is in another sphere. Your story does not need to be tainted in a bad light by comparing wrongly. It is bad enough on its own.

Why is Bangladesh closing its borders? Why are only young men (who can work) on the boats? Who pays for the trip on the boat? There must be the first agents I think. Where do they want to go? Thailand? Malaysia? Indonesia? Australia? Do they have contracts to pay later? Or they just gather at the sea, highjack an old boat and break into the waves for good? What is happening to the stay back wifes, mothers, sisters? You send them money after finding work? Do you never get asked this questions?

Posted by Lena on December 28, 2012 17:40

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Bangladesh and CNN news media have published numerous reports of Bengalis illegally migrating eastwards by sea and land. Refer to CNN report of Nov 1, 2012 and Khabar Soth Asia Dec 24, 2012. Once they cross the border, they identify themselves as Rohingya to gain international sympathy. In addition, approximately 12 million to 17 million Bangladeshi immigrants have come to India illegally since the 1950s. As far back as 1975, the then Bangladesh Ambassador to Myanmar Khwaja Mohammed Kaiser admitted that "there were upward of 1/2 million Bangalee (Bangladeshi) trespassers in Arakan (Rakhine state) whom the Burmese (Myanmar) had some right to eject. He had implored the Burmese authorities not to press this issue during Bangladesh's present troubles [COUP of August and November 1975] and had been pleased that the Burmese had not taken advantage of his country's misfortune in this respect.

Posted by Ray on December 28, 2012 19:54

Editor Comment:

Please send us the links for those reports, Ray, just so we can check with our own eyes. Nobody is disputing that some Bengalis do trespass in Rakhine (Arakan) but were there really 800,000 of them and, if they are Bengalis, what would keep them there if they have citizenship elsewhere?


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