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Rohingya would-be-refugees on Phuket after arriving in a boat in February

'Thais Tortured Us,' Say Rescued Rohingya Boatpeople

Sunday, August 21, 2011
PHUKET: Accusations that the Thai military mistreated Rohingya boatpeople this year in a shocking new ''pushback'' have been made today in a Hong Kong newspaper, quoting survivors in India.

The fresh allegations go one step further than reports of the notorious 2008-2009 incidents, claiming that captive Rohingya were tortured in Thailand over five days in January.

Today's report in the South China Morning Post newspaper quotes a Rohingya as saying that before being towed out to sea and cast adrift in a boat with no engine, "The soldiers beat us badly with wooden batons.

''They forced us to go nude and stay in seawater for more than five hours every day. Using cigarette lighters, the Thai soldiers burned the beards of some of us."

Reporter Shaikh Azizur Rhaman in Calcutta spoke by telephone to several of the 91 Rohingya who were rescued by Indian authorities on February 5.

The boatpeople are now being held in a jail in the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, between Phuket and India.

Accusations of torture by the Thai military come as mystery surrounds the policy of Thailand's new government towards the Rohingya, a Muslim minority denied citizenship in their Burmese homeland.

Phuketwan revealed on Friday that Rohingya boatpeople who have been held on Phuket and in other parts of Thailand now appear to be being ''repatriated,'' but their destination has not been revealed.

The covert process leaves many questions unanswered. Today's revelation of a fresh ''pushback'' applies pressure on the new Thai government to provide comprehensive answers.

Governments in Burma, Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and India have failed to find a solution to the issue of the stateless Rohingya since Phuketwan journalists, working with the South China Morning Post, first revealed the secret ''pushbacks'' from Thailand in January 2009.

Today's claims are likely to provide the newly elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra with an international test of its human rights policies.

Rohingya told the Post that on January 13 they were intercepted by the Thai Navy off the coast near Phuket. They said the group was held in detention for five days, before being towed far out to sea.

"We were given around 250kg of rice, 5kg of dry fish and some vegetables, and some packets of charcoal when we were left at sea," said Sheikh Montaz, 38, who told the Post he came from Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh.

"They gave us only about 100 litres of water. We cried for more water. They did not care.

"We had no matches to light our oven. We just kept praying to Allah to keep us alive."

After more than two weeks adrift, the men were picked up by the Indian coastguard and taken to Port Blair, capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, joining 190 other Rohingya boatpeople who have been in detention since early 2009.
Phuket Boatpeople Trucked Out as Others Are Loaded into Longtails and 'Given 4000 Baht to Go'
Latest Mystery surrounds the sudden shift north of Phuket's boatpeople prisoners as others are given 4000 baht each as they board longtails . . . destined for who knows where.
Phuket Boatpeople Trucked Out as Others Are Loaded into Longtails and 'Given 4000 Baht to Go'

Phuket Boatpeople 'Vanish' from Phang Nga
Latest A source confirms that 35 Rohingya men and boys from a boatload of would be refugees that landed on Phuket have now been moved - and a UN agency would like to know where.
Phuket Boatpeople 'Vanish' from Phang Nga

Phuket's Boatpeople Still Being Held
Latest A group of Rohingya boatpeople, including young boys, is still being held in cramped condition after five months on Phuket as concerns grow for their wellbeing.
Phuket's Boatpeople Still Being Held

Children Being Held Among Phuket, Phang Nga Boatpeople
Latest With concern mounting that Thailand may have restarted its reprehensible push backs of Rohingya refugees, we publish the names and ages of those being held on Phuket and in Phang Nga.
Children Being Held Among Phuket, Phang Nga Boatpeople

Phuket Immigration Denies Rohinga 'Repatriation'
Latest Immigration authorities on Phuket say that no decision has been made yet about the future of a boatload of Rohingya captured on the island. Reports of 'repatriation' appear premature.
Phuket Immigration Denies Rohinga 'Repatriation'

More Phuket Boatpeople! About 68 Rohingya Land on Phuket in Two Groups
Breaking News UPDATE About 68 Rohingya in two groups have been apprehended after the first boatpeople waded ashore on a quiet part of Phuket near a luxury five-star resort.
More Phuket Boatpeople! About 68 Rohingya Land on Phuket in Two Groups

Phuket Pair Win Top Asia Pacific Reporting Awards
Latest Phuketwan's editorial team pick up two top journalism prizes at Asia Pacific awards: for Excellence in Investigative Reporting and for Excellence in Human Rights Reporting.
Phuket Pair Win Top Asia Pacific Reporting Awards

Comments

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This is a very serious allegation against the military, hopefully there will be an independent inquiry into this incident so that the truth can be revealed and lessons can be learned.

Posted by Bjarne on August 21, 2011 10:41

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they could given them the coordinates to a Muslim country such as Malaysia they tend to take them and I understand that Thailand does not want them, they probably have their own problems and poor in the country but would someone spend their own money and share the house with a Rohingya do it, set up themselves with your own money and the house if you think they should stay here! someone has to pay at the end!

Posted by Callen on August 21, 2011 12:56

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(moderated)

Posted by johndev on August 21, 2011 17:55

Editor Comment:

I suggest you stick to other sites in future, johndev. Your comments are juvenile and not worthy of publication.

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This is getting more and more a mystery to me. When the Rohingya are not aprehended, where do they go? They are only men and not too old. Looks clearly like workers(?) trafficking. Who "orders" them, who pays? Where do they show up? Cannot be they just jump a beach and try to find work or whatever. They will have destinations to go with pick-up service, I am sure.

And what is the idea behind this pushbacks? As it is clear, when they show up on Indias islands, they will complain, as they have no cause to keep that silent, not at all. When they do not show up, why give them rice and water? No motor? What vessels are these? With sails? Who retrofit a vessel and take out the engine?

Why the f*** torture them? What is the point? Putting fear in others, not to come to Thailands coasts? But then push them out drifting, what is torture needed for? And others put into holding cells under unbelievable conditions even for Thai standards without any hope...

That does not end up on so many levels, it cannot be a thought through policy. That is just a mess. And most of it I wonder what happens to the Rohingya kids and women when their providers rott in jail.

Posted by Lena on August 21, 2011 23:44


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