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A Rohingya boy at a family shelter north of Phuket

Blame Game on Rohingya a Diversion

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
PHUKET: Thailand's Deputy Interior Minister has been criticised for making the media a scapegoat for Thailand's treatment of its captive Rohingya.

Wisarn Techathirawat has been reported as saying that the presence of the media encourages Rohingya refugees to ''act-up in front of the camera'' in order to get sympathy.

The ''feigned pitifulness'' of the Rohingya reported by the press is giving Thailand a bad name, Mr Wisarn was quoted as saying on a visit this week to an immigration centre north of Phuket.

After a sustained protest on August 8 by the 261 Rohingya men who had been kept in cramped cells at the Phang Nga centre for months, authorities moved them out to smaller police stations.

Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Asia Division, Human Rights Watch, said today: ''It's nothing short of scandalous that a Thai deputy minister who oversees a policy that locks away Rohingya in indefinite detention has the gall to blame the media and the Rohingya themselves for giving Thailand a bad name.

''The Thai government is doing that quite well themselves with their inhumane treatment of the Rohingya - and insensitive comments like these don't help the matter.

''The logical question the Deputy Minister should be now asked is whether the eight Rohingya who have died of health problems in detention were also playing for the camera.

''Rather than locking the Rohingya away and playing the blame game, the Thai government should be providing temporary protection arrangements that allow the Rohingya freedom of movement, registration and the right to work, and full access to support services from international organisations who are prepared to help.''

Two Phuketwan reporters drove to the Phang Nga Immigration centre as news of the August 8 protest became widespread. One reporter was encouraged by officials to try to find a translator who could speak to the Rohingya in their native language.

The Thai government has so far failed to provide translators so the captive Rohingya and their jailers can understand each other.

Despite the inability to communicate, Khun Wisarn was reported to say that ''when the media are not present, they [the Rohingya] act normally, and even seem to enjoy their interaction with the officers.''

Yet without the media being present, Rohingya men, women and children have consistently chosen to try to escape their indefinite detention in Thailand, often straight into the arms of traffickers.

Reports by experienced journalists from Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, the BBC, Channel 4, Australia's ABC and other international news organisations have never hinted at Rohingya performing for the cameras.

Phuketwan editor Alan Morison said today: ''We cover the Rohingya issue more thoroughly than most. We've never seen Rohingya play-acting.

''Khun Wisarn must be getting his information from subordinates looking to blame someone, anyone, for Thailand's policy failures.

''We always have Thailand's best interests at heart and if Khun Wisarn wants some information about what's troubling the Rohingya, we'd be happy to give him a thorough, accurate briefing at any time.''


Comments have been disabled for this article.


I am really astonished of Thailand's Deputy Interior Minister Wisarn Techathirawat's discouraging medias who adventurously documented Rohingyas' hue and cry at the hand of traffickers and in the cages of detained Centers .Instead ,I'd like to request HE Wisarn Techathirawat to release all the Rohingyas and allow them UNHCR access as international standard and take necessary action against the trafficking .

We are very much thankful to the generous Thais who have been visiting the Rohingyas with foods,drinks ,cloths, sweets etc since January 2013. The Thais spent millions of THB for their fellow ASEAN friends, Rohingya detainees.
We would like to see the Media independent works in every country in ASEAN . The Media independence is main part of democracy and helping to lead to a good governance and accountable of government .We always appreciate Media freedom of Kingdom of Thailand compare to its neighbor Burma. LET'S MEDIA WORK FREELY..
I am sincerely seeking HE Wisarn Techathirawat 's sympathy to Rohingya captives .Rohingyas are escapees of GENOCIDES.

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,President,Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) on August 21, 2013 22:17

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