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Time for Thailand to obey its own message: Stop Human Trafficking

Australia Makes Thailand Look Good

Friday, July 26, 2013
Phuketwan News Analysis

PHUKET: Efforts to turn back would-be refugees are becoming less humane every day. Thailand is, at least, proving to be a little more compassionate than Australia.

Once a nation with a heart, Australia is now offloading its unwanted boatpeople to a forsaken island camp off the mainland of Papua New Guinea, an underdeveloped country that already struggles to care for its own impoverished citizens.

Arriving boatpeople are to be told that even if they are eventually granted refugee status, they will never be allowed to enter Australia.

This kind of ruthless and blatantly political approach for electoral gain has brought scorn from the the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and from near-neighbors, including Indonesia.

Thailand, where 2000 Rohingya have been held captive to a six-month deadline that officially expires today, is likely to show a more considered approach - even if some would-be asylum seekers have been kept in shocking conditions.

Phuketwan expects to hear any day that a camp will be established in the Deep South, probably run by the Army's Internal Security Operations Command.

A province with a large Muslim population is likely to be chosen after residents in Nakhon Si Thammarat objected in substantial numbers to having a displaced persons' camp on their doorsteps.

Back in January, after women and children were discovered for the first time on Rohingya boats fleeing ethnic cleansing in Burma, Thai authorities raided traffickers' camps and apprehended people at sea.

A decision is now due on the status and future of those Rohingya, a verdict that will set the pattern for how thousands of Rohingya are dealt with in the weeks, months and probably years to come.

If anything, the flow of Rohingya fleeing persecution in Burma is likely to grow larger from October, when the ''safe'' sailing season resumes.

What Thailand's six-month hiatus in the covert processing of illegal arrivals revealed for the first time is the huge scale of the people-trafficking business, north from Phuket along the Andaman coast and south to the Malaysian border.

Traffickers have grown rich on the trade in humans. Renegade officers in the military and among the local police have also been willing participants.

The way to end this nightmare is for Thailand to tell Burma to stop the covertly-sanctioned persecution of its Rohingya minority, to grant them the protection that citizenship would bring, and to take steps to treat and stop Burma's endemic racism.

Thailand, however, lacks the courage and commitment to challenge its naughty neighbor. As an alternative to speaking up, Thailand will continue to ''help on'' boatloads of Rohingya at sea and covertly process those who come ashore in Thailand.

What Thailand's policy on Rohingya also needs is a commitment to tranparency to end the blatant trafficking, which is accepted as fact by all except the military's leaders.

Thailand's men in uniform, it appears, can do no wrong. We certainly hope that holds true with the new displaced persons' camp in the Deep South.

It would be wise for the Thai Government to turn its back on trafficking by allowing the future processing of Rohingya to be fully transparent to the UNHCR, aid agencies and the media.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Hundreds of lives have been lost to the sea as boatpeople seek a "better" life in Australia. This is a two sided debate if there is no life to be obtained in Australia less people will die trying to get there in boats that are over loaded and often cannot take the rough seas. Look at the recent disaster at Christmas island when the boat was smashed to pieces as it hit the island and many died.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on July 26, 2013 13:58

Editor Comment:

What a pity the Australian authorities, and the Australian people, are so cold-hearted. Many of them are the offspring of immigrants but their selfishness is such that they are unwilling to share their wealth with people who are deprived of alternatives. Thailand is far more hospitable and caring.


"Thailand is far more hospitable and caring".

Have you forgotten the articles you wrote about rape, slavery and human trafficking by members of the armed forces that are themselves part of Thai officialdom?

Posted by sir burr on July 26, 2013 14:23

Editor Comment:

Are you aggregating bits of information out of context to support your own biases again, sir burr?


No one ever says anything about Japan's lack of taking in any refugees or the unwillingness to except migrants into the country.

All this Australia bashing. As a small nation, Australia has done it's fair share!

Posted by Glassy on July 26, 2013 15:39

Editor Comment:

Australia is a large nation with lots of space. Japan doesn't have a lot of that. Give the Rohingya an outback town and a mining lease or two and their problems will be over.


Ed, you seem to be a bit bitter towards Australia, you forget, Australia at least provides safe passage to the camps, something Thailand doesn't, nor does Australia trade in slavery or inhumane conditions, if, in fact, like myself, you have worked at some of these camps, you would see that the "refugees" are treat extremely well, complaints come from a minority who may or may not have their OWN agenda. Before condemning a nation you should at least have some facts not just use you position to slander.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on July 26, 2013 15:39

Editor Comment:

Australia keeps captive children in primitive conditions, allows would-be refugees to suicide or stitch their lips together in protest and, if former guards have it right, permits serial rape in camps without intervention. No slander there. It's all true. Racist Aussies vote in racist governments. It's now an election race to see who can be the biggest racist. Appalling. Bring back Malcolm Fraser.


In fact the Thai are extraordinary generous,soft heartened and smiling people .Though Thailand is not a signatory of 1951 UN Convention regarding Refugees ,its records of sheltering tens of thousands of Refugees from neighboring counties is highly appreciable. We are very optimistic today that the helpless Rohingya detainees case would be ended as per international standard and . The concerned parties are well aware that the Rohingyas are escapees of genocide . These people must be save from greedy human traffickers. If the Rohingyas detainees are released and shelter at the refugee camps under the supervision of UNHCR ,they dirty trafficking business will be ended along the border sides.
We are sincerely waiting for a durable solution from the Royal Thai government regarding Rohingya detainees' safety.
In the mean times we condemned Australia policy towards boat people which is inhuman .

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,President,Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) on July 26, 2013 16:44


Agree wholehearted with @ED on your comments in relation to Australia. Australia needs to pull itself together - your comments in relation to racism within OZ is correct as seen by many immigrants over the last few years who have left other countries seeking work in Australia and the manner in which they have been treated by locals.

Posted by Ciaran on July 26, 2013 16:45


I strongly recommend that K Maung Kyaw Nu's comment be repeated as feature story.

Posted by ssresident on July 26, 2013 16:52


stop your whining and do something about the reason they need to leave in the first place

Posted by simon on July 26, 2013 19:15


Australia is one of the most generous nations in the world when it comes to taking refugees, so calling Australians selfish is pure ignorance. Saying Thailand is far more caring is laughable given some of the horrendous stuff that has happened to asylum seekers in Thailand. It's quite clear that you don't want to listen to facts anyway, you should really stop writing on important issues because you don't have the ability to do it properly.

Posted by Dave on July 27, 2013 05:01

Editor Comment:

I've spent enough time speaking to black Australians to know precisely how generous white Australians are, Dave. And when you talk about Australians, white monoculture Australians is what you mean. Playing sport, commuting on trams and trains, anyone who isn't the right color or doesn't speak ''like an Australian'' is still denigrated and abused. The boatpeople policy is shameful and exposes Australians as heartless to the whole world.


The fact is there are millions in camps doing the right thing and waiting their turn. Boat people are jumping in front of the real refugees. If the daily income is less than a dollar a day and you can pay $10000 for a boat ride, you then destroy your papers to hide your identity and expect to be let straight in. Don't know about you Ed but I don't know if they are genuine, economic refugees, bludgers or terrorists. I think they should automatically go to the back of the line for jumping the queue. Also you are an asylum seeker or refugee when you leave your country of origin. If you arrive at another country where you are safe and then choose to move onto another country then you are an ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT. As far as the buses and trains story goes you are talking a minority and to label Australians racists is racist in itself. As far as the black Australians go then I suggest you spend 12 months in Kunnunurra or Port Hedland, be told you are a white c@#$ everyday and then get back to me.

Posted by Peter on July 27, 2013 10:07

Editor Comment:

Best learn a bit about the reason for the name-calling, Peter,visit the squalid camps where Australia's original ''owners'' live. Centuries of Australian racism has deprived them of their pride and their country. And if they are now looking on at prosperous, uncaring whites, what do you expect them to call you? Mate?
Wealth only becomes worthwhile when its shared with those less fortunate. Australians are on a par with the Burmese of Rakhine state. Failure to sort the genuine refugees from the others in the boats indicates Australia's couldn't care less attitude. Push them away, forget them. Heartless to the core. Malcolm Fraser has it right. It's Australia's new national racist shame.


"Australia keeps captive children in primitive conditions, allows would-be refugees to suicide or stitch their lips together," Ed, you should visit these "primitive" conditions before commenting on something you obviously know NOTHING about. Australia does NOT allow people to suicide OR stitch their lips together, this is done without the authorities knowledge, in fact, most "stitching" incidents are FORCED upon the victims by more powerful groups within the refugees. As for "primitive, what a joke, my mother, as a baby, lived in a tent city, in Serpentine WA, no power, only kerosene lamps and stoves, the toilet was the old thunder box, the refugee camps are luxury compare to them. You go on to say Australia has "lots of space," you and I BOTH know the most of Australia is desert, do you want these people to live in the desert. Do you believe all nations should open their borders and allow free movement back and forwards? Your comment about racist people vote in racist governments would mean all voters from all nations are racist, including yourself, simply because they want to protect their borders.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on July 27, 2013 10:27

Editor Comment:

Australia has now decided to shunt all boatpeople to Papua New Guinea without checking whether they are really refugees or not. That flies in the face of compassion and international standards. It's racism in action. Refugee camps are not luxurious and, essentially, prisons. Most refugees would be delighted to live on the Australian mainland in the freedom your mother enjoyed, no matter what the conditions. Australia's poll-iticians accurately characterise the people who vote for them. Give the Rohingya an outback town and a couple of mining leases. Problem solved.
By the way, I don't vote. Stop making assumptions.


So Ed, the man of compassion. What are YOU doing about it with YOUR money? I didn't do anything to aboriginals and neither has the average white Ozzy. I have Aboriginal friends and an Asian wife. If you want to blame people then blame the catholic church and Great Britain for the plight of aboriginies.

Posted by Peter on July 27, 2013 13:32

Editor Comment:

I don't blame individuals for systemic racism but it would be a positive move if more Australians acknowledged the reality and urged their politicians to show that Australia and Australians have changed. Vote the people who are damaging your reputation around the world out of office.


Ed, without visiting the refugee camps, you are making more false assumptions, based on hearsay and NOT first hand experience, yet you refuse to accept facts from those who have actually been there. The "squalid," aboriginal, camps you mention do exist, but you fail to point out that these "camps", which are in fact villages, were in fact brand new at some stage, the reason they are squalid is NOT because of the white man. as a journalist you only paint a picture that suits your bigoted views, views that FAIL any real test, views that fly in the face of the truth, something you refuse to accept, because it is not what you believe. You accuse so many commenters of not knowing what they are talking about but you are by far the worse offender. A biter twisted old man, Australia is far better off without your bigotry and false reporting. By denying the truth, you are part of the problem. Oh, no matter what you say, I don't think the "refugees" would like to swap they existing camp, for one in the Simpson desert, another place I have been.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on July 27, 2013 13:53

Editor Comment:

This is about turning the boats around to Papua New Guinea, Phuket_IOC. As usual,you're still trying to explain away last century's human rights abuses by Australians. And you've descended once more into unwarranted personal abuse because you know you know Australia has got it wrong yet again. Could their governments be . . . racists? Shame on you for persevering and trying to justify an inhumane policy. The rest of the world is shocked, and with good cause.


Dear Ed ,
I must admit it does not surprise me but I now see the truth that you only publish letters that suit your own agenda.Rest assured that all my friends in Phuket , and I have lived there 7 years , will now understand this as well.

Posted by Grant on July 29, 2013 14:54

Editor Comment:

This is your first post, Grant. What leads you to draw a wrong conclusion with just one post? Surely you wouldn't be making assumptions or employing guesswork? Surely you wouldn't be issuing vague, meaningless threats? Please tell me more.


Dear Ed.
I sent this in to you on Friday night but it may, by the sound of it, have failed to reach you.
Sorry but all I can do is laugh at some of your "informed comments" Ed. Yes Australia has alot to fix with it's immigration policies but enough with the preaching on how perfect Thailand treats them. Remember this headline from July 23 story "Five Escaped Rohingya Boys Set to Be Traded as Trawler Slaves, Sources Say." The article that you published goes on to list numerous cases of people being sold into slavery , ending up in hospital after being held in detention and indefinite detention in squalid camps. You go on to say the Thai navy "helps the boats on" in other words they refuse them landing permission , which is against the convention. Another quote from the same article " 'A government policy originally created to provide temporary protection to the Rohingya landing on Thai shores has mutated into a much more sinister policy of indefinite detention in inhumane conditions, with the only way out being offered by human traffickers."
Yes I can see how they are treating them so well.
Now back to your comments here.
Yes Australia is a big country but the problem there is that over 3/4 of the country is desert and the snide remark about giving them a town and a mining lease is assinine at best. If you had thought it through you may have realized that all the support services so needed by refugees are located in major centers so in other words you are saying throw them out in the middle of nowhere in a very harsh country and let them look out for themselves , very humane. Sure give them a lease as we all know how safe it is to mine deep in the earth with no training but what the heck they're only refugees and health and safety doesn't apply to them.
The numbers arriving in Australia are mind boggling and to say you should let everyone in without checks and balances that are done whilst they are in detention beggars belief. I think you need to look to your home countries refugee policies before getting on your high horse as the per-capita intake in Australia is up near the top of the list.
Then there is this peach,,,"if former guards have it right, permits serial rape in camps without intervention. No slander there. It's all true."
First of all you state, "if guards have it right" then go on to say "it's all true" make up your mind, are the guards right or not because if not how can you state it's all true......
I think it is you that is "aggregating bits of information out of context to support your own biases again" , sir.
As I said at the start , Australia is far from perfect on this or any other issue but if you are going to run a story that panders to what I see as your dislike of Australia at least get off your ass and go down there to research the facts like any decent "journalist" would.
I will be interested to see if this gets published and more interested to read your comments.
P.S. I am Australian but have not lived there for nearly 10 years,I happily acknowledge there are problems with this issue in Australia but I do try to do it factually.
PPS , I don't issue threats whether vague or meaningless I just stated a fact.

Posted by Grant on July 29, 2013 15:23

Editor Comment:

''Rest assured that all my friends in Phuket , and I have lived there 7 years , will now understand this as well.''

Sounds a vague and meaningless threat to me.

Australia's latest political solution to the refugee issue is to send all boatloads to Papua New Guinea. All of them. Putting aside the debatable policies of the past, you justify this policy just because a lot of people are now sailing towards Australia. Asinine? You said it. Self-interested? You said that too, at some considerable length. Selfish and inhumane? Not you, me. I said that. There really shouldn't be any need to compare Thailand's policy (a developing country) with that of Australia (a developed country.) The developed country should always set the moral example. But one country has a heart. The lead-by-example rich country doesn't. Shameful, as Malcolm Fraser says, and most thinking Australians agree.
Some of my ''informed'' comments were for laughs. The important point is that Australia, as a nation grown fat and prosperous on migration, has no right to turn its back on the desperate and deserving. Justifying that is an impossible task, Grant.
And by the way, here's a quote from the guardian: ''Vast, sparsely populated Australia demands ''protection'' from refugees and asylum seekers of whom fewer than 15,000 were settled last year - 0.99% of the world's total.''


So Australia makes Thailand look good ?...but I don't think many will agree that Thailand make Australia look bad...? Maybe it is just a question of political observance ? More attention should be paid to the root cause for the migration and solve it there instead.

Posted by Sailor on July 29, 2013 16:00

Editor Comment:

Indeed. Sadly, Australia prefers to selfishly look after its own interests and ignore the needs of the region. Politicians from left and right there - tweedledum and tweedledee - now accurately mirror the materialistic, isolationist attitude of the average Aussie hedonist.


I truly believe Australians are not cold hearted people and have been emasculated by the bi-partisan Australian government's inhuman refugee policy. Time will judge this dark period of Australian politics badly.

Posted by Pe-Terr on July 31, 2013 21:46


The people on the boats coming to Australia are not refugees. They are actually invaders. They haven't spent any time in refugee camps set up in the middle east. They see the soft, and overly generous policies of the Australian Government have on offer for anyone who arrives on a boat with no documentation.
The concerns with the Australian people from all backgrounds is a question of sustainability. There is a severe infrastructure problem in Australia and an even worse housing situation. Schools are run down with no heating and cooling. Hospitals are poorly run and emergency waiting room times average 4-5 hours before a doctor is seen. Roads are still in the same mess they were in decades ago. Trains are delapidated, dirty, and dangerous to travel on. Average medium house prices in any of Australias large cities are well over half a million dollars. Average rents in the poorer suburbs of Sydney is around $400 a week.
Now all these so called camps are full the generous government of Australia has started dumping these Iranian/Iraqi invaders into the suburbs. They have their rent paid for by the Australian government. They have their internet and phone bills paid for by the Australian government. They have their food/groceries paid for by the Australian government. All household appliances are paid for by the Australian government etc, etc. (let's see the Thai government match that of the racist Australian government)
Sending these invaders to Papua New Guinea hopefully will deter them and others from taking advantage of the generosity of the Australian people and their government.
If the Rohingyan people were to make it to Australia then good for them. I'm sure if they are true refugees then they will be cared for as such. They aren't the ones paying people smugglers thousands of dollars for a boat ticket to a free loading life at the expense of the generous Australian tax payers.

Posted by It's too late on August 1, 2013 03:42

Editor Comment:


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