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Boatpeople - would-be refugees - behind bars at a Phuket police station

More Phuket Boatpeople! About 68 Rohingya Land on Phuket in Two Groups

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A second large group of Rohingya has been apprehended in Phuket's Rawai region, bringing to about 68 the total of boatpeople caught on Phuket today. Thirty-three were in the first bunch, then two more were held.

Phuket Rohingya: Photo Album Above

MORE THAN 60 Rohingya boatpeople have come ashore on Phuket and are now being held by police and Immigration today after wandering in hungry groups around parts of the holiday island.

The men said different groups had gone in different directions after wading ashore in darkness off Laem Ka beach, a quiet cove alongside the luxury five-star Evason Six Senses Resort in Rawai, a southern village on Phuket.

Some wandered the nearby main street, Viset Road, while others looked for food in groups of five or six. A second group of 33 was found later in the day, hiding in a five-star villas construction site opposite the Rawai municipal offices.

While the Rohingya stand out from Phuket's usual Buddhist and Muslim population because of their distinctive wraps, the men spent some time on Phuket today before coming to the attention of local police or authorities.

The early arrivals told officers they had swum ashore and the boat had sailed on, but late this afternoon, their boat was found at Laem Ka Noi beach.

The men were being processed in two groups today at Chalong Police Station and at Immigration HQ in Phuket City.

The first group were taken to Immigration and replaced at Chalong Police Station by the second group. Officers were asking them to write down their names.

The men and boys were being held in two cells at the police station.

The youngest is 12 years old and all except one are under 30. One man told Phuketwan that they had been without food for 10 days before reaching Phuket, and claimed at first that others on the boat were continuing to sail on towards Malaysia.

Later, the second group was found at the construction site, along with the boat soon after at Laem Ka Noi.

One of the men in the first group, Ardun Salaam, 30, said: ''We did not know where we were when we swam from the boat.

''We have had no food for 10 days, just water. The journey from Burma took longer than we thought it would. We shared our money to buy the boat, and we were at sea for about a month before our group decided to come ashore.''

The boatload of Rohingya is the third to come ashore within the past week. The 91 men on the first boat that landed south of Phuket in Trang province on January 22 have been taken to Ranong, the border port between Thailand and Burma, where they are being held in the Immigration detention centre.

The 67 men who arrived the following day were to be taken to Ranong but have now been diverted because of lack of space to be held in detention in Songkhla, a southern city.

The three boatloads are the first to arrive in Thailand since Phuketwan and the South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong exposed the scandalous and inhumane policy of the Thai military of covert ''pushbacks'' of would-be refugees in January 2009.

Hundreds of boatpeople died after being towed out to sea and left to drift in international waters with no motors and little fuel. Survivors fetched up in India and Indonesia, raising alarm about their treatment among countries throughout the region.

Since then, only one boatload of Rohingya has been ''helped on'' to Malaysia by the Thai Navy until the latest series of landings.

More boats may be on their way south but in Thailand, accommodation at detention centres is filling up fast. Remnants of the first boatload of more than 70 men who arrived two years ago after the ''pushbacks'' were revealed are still being held in detention in Bangkok, two years on.

Human rights groups have expressed concern over the plight of the 158 Rohingya men already being detained by authorities. The arrival of the Phuket groups will increase their concern.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Thailand needs to join modern civilisation and help people when such desperate circumstances arrive.
You mention 2 years for the first group? That's despicable, also shipping these people back to the country where they are being persecuted.
Outrageous and shame on Thailand Authorities for doing this.

Posted by Tbs on February 1, 2011 10:40


can we donate some food for them?

Posted by VFaye on February 1, 2011 10:43


The boatpeople are indeed world`s most oppressed - Rohingya Muslims from Arakan, Burma.They are victims of religious and racial discrimination by their own ruler(junta).That`s why they deserve international protection. Any attempt to deport them will be against humanity.They want a permanent political solution.

Nurul Islam,
Arakan Human Rights Review

Posted by Nurul Islam on February 1, 2011 13:57


Yes, that's a great question VFaye, is there a place that we can go and donate food for them? Any info from Phuket Wan would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Posted by Concerned on February 1, 2011 15:00

Editor Comment:

We would just be guessing at this stage, seeing as their future has yet to be determined.


Odd how these "refugees" are only boys and men. Where are the women, who make up half of any population, and their children?

Posted by Cap't. Kirk on February 2, 2011 12:28

Editor Comment:

Nothing odd about it. The journey is perilous, potentially deadly. The women and children are left safe at home, although a 12-year-old boy was among the passengers on this voyage. Thai authorities at one time figured these men were sailing to join the southern insurgency, but have since put aside that ridiculous theory. They sail because they are persecuted. And they are more correctly would-be refugees until their claims for refugee status are accepted.

Monday May 20, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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