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When nearly 850 Rohingya boat people were rescued from their secret shelters in Songkhla's Sadao district on 18 Jan. 2013, the government finally did the right thing by providing them with humanitarian care and allowing them to have access to international assistance. Up until this week, the country's main policy toward Rohingya boat people was to give them food, water, and fuel before putting them back out to sea so they can continue their journey to Malaysia, which is their main destination, or to deport them by land back to Myanmar. By chasing them away, either by sea or by land, this policy is equivalent to pushing the Rohingya back into the open arms of human traffickers. If they cannot pay up, they risk imprisonment, torture, or even death back in Myanmar. It is therefore good news that the government finally responded to calls from human rights groups and the international community to give humanitarian assistance to the Muslim-minority Rohingya who fled ethnic-cleansing violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state. There are many woman and children among the rescued Rohingya. This clearly shows that this latest influx of Rohingya boat people who have reached Thai shores are war refugees and asylum seekers. They must be treated accordingly. Thailand, however, still considers them illegal immigrants, which makes them criminals in the eyes of Thai law which subjects them to arrest, imprisonment and deportation. The Yingluck government made the right decision not to deport them and allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to interview the boat people in order to determine who they are, where they came from, and what they need. This assessment process is crucial. The records will help ensure that the assistance meets their needs and help the authorities with later identification when the same Rohingya are smuggled back into Thailand again. There is no such assessment system at present. This laxity made it easy for corrupt officials to assist human traffickers by sending the Rohingya asylum seekers across the border and allowing them back again, which essentially makes them part of the human trafficking racket. Amid trade sanction threats from the US and EU, the Yingluck government has sent the right message to the international community by starting to take human traffickers to task. But the government needs to do much more to prove its commitment to battling human trafficking. To start with, a local politician in Songkhla and two Rohingya men wanted by the police are just small fry in the Rohingya human trafficking racket. Even so, they have not yet been arrested. The big fish remain unscathed. So do the corrupt officials. As long as these key players are spared, then the stream of Rohingya boat people won't stop.


Apart from getting real with the human trafficking rackets and corrupt officials, the government must stop viewing the Rohingya as a national security threat and set up a system to identify their identities and their needs so they can go to third countries or return home. To help the Rohingya, the international community must also lend a hand, not only by financially supporting humanitarian assistance, but also by exerting pressure on the Myanmar government to stop ethnic violence in Rakhine. If the international community continues to focus on Thailand's policy shortcomings while turning a blind eye to the ongoing atrocities against the Rohingya so it can still enjoy reaping benefits from investment opportunities in Myanmar, there is one word to describe this gap between words and actions. It is called hypocrisy. ## Source: 18 January 2013

Rohingya: A new exodus?

Friday, January 11, 2013, By U Ne Oo

About 145 Rohingya boat people were found crammed inside a vessel without food or water for 48 hours off Mook island in Trang's Sikao district of Thailand.

The new year of 2013 has seen an increase in numbers of Burmese refugee arriving Malaysia -- especially by sea route. The Burmese refugees, primarily the Rohingya from Arakan State west of Burma, are now taking a direct sea-route to reach Malaysia. Numerous lives have already been lost at sea, as this AFP report indicated[1]. We can certainly feel apprehensive about this situation now, but we all need to look back, reflect and see what went wrong. FORMATION OF CRISIS The Arakan state is one of the most economically deprived areas within Burma. The local Rakhine population has been under severe economic stress and that many of its young were being forced to leave and move out to the other parts of Burma. On the one hand -- be the truth or just an exaggeration -- undocumented migrants from Bangladesh are increasingly taken over Arakan [2]. Local Rakhine people have long held racial and religious resentments against Rohingyas, and now they see the new influx of migrants as a threat to their livelihood and of existence. In late May 2012, a Rakhine woman was sexually assaulted and murdered by three Muslim villagers. The state media -- both radio and print -- had inflamed Rakhine population by selective reporting of that incident. With tacit approval by Arakan State authorities, the local Rakhine youth group in Taunggok had mobilized the public against Muslims-Rohingya. This had led to the killing of 10 Muslims travelers in Taunggok on early June 2012, an observer concluded [3]. Following this incident, the communal riot broke out between Rakhine and Rohinga Muslims, attacking and destroying each other's properties. Loss of lives have also been reported as a result of the violence [4].

An ethnic Rakhine Buddhist man holds homemade weapons as he walks in front of burning houses during fighting between Buddhist Arakanese and Muslim Rohingya communities in Sittwe, Burma, on June 10, 2012

CONTAINMENT OF THE CRISIS Following these incidents, the Burmese government in Naypyidaw had imposed a curfew and increased its security forces in Arakan State as a measure to contain escalating communal violence. Order was restored and communal violence was ceased. The Burmese government had been praised insofar as containing this communal violence is in concerned. Non-the-less, its overall approach to handling of the crisis has been far from satisfactory. To my assessment, the Burmese government's failure -- especially inability to project certainity about the Rohingya community for the future -- have largely contributed to recent increase in the exodus of Rohingyas. FAILING TO ESTABLISH THE TRUTH In August, the Burmese government had set-up a 27 members commission to look into the incidents in Arakan State. However, the composition of the commission is not independent and outcome will not be seen as impartial, observers noted [3]. In particular, the Arakan State authorities who have failed to prevent mass killing of Muslim travellers on 3rd June 2012 were included in the commission. The negligence of Rakhine State authorities, along with security personnel, are seen as main contributing factor in escalation of the crisis. An independent commission, therefore, is needed to investigate the truth about these incidents. Seen from the Rohingya's perspective, the independence of this commission and perceived effectiveness of Naypyidaw government's investigation will be most important. This is because the local political group, RNDP, as well as State security personnel at various level were involved in the campaign against Rohingyas. An investigator investigating its own crime is not going to produce the truth but, only cover-ups. The oppressed Muslim-Rohingya will surely feel helpless about the situation. SENDING WRONG SIGNALS In July 2012, President U Thein Sein had told the UN that Rohingya would be allowed to resettled abroad [5]. As a result of continuing violence, the two communities have been segregated and Rohingya are placed in the internment camps. The UN had reportedly rejected the proposal to send Rohingya abroad. However, the RNDP, which believed to be main instigator of the violence and author of that policy, had supported the proposal [6]. Although the proposed resettlement option is impossible, it had sent incorrect signal to the Rohingya community -- who now are mainly in the internment camps -- that they cannot hope to return to their former homes. This combined with the hardship to make life under the restriction of movement that is in place [3], it is quite predictable that the Rohingya will contemplate leaving Burma. LACK OF INITIATIVES There had been the opposition political parties and community groups calling to put a stop on violence in Arakan. The NLD, 88 Generation Student Groups and All Myanmar Muslim Association among them. Despite raising their voice of concern about violence in Arakan, there appears to be no substantative initiative to ameliorate the situation in Arakan. In particular, the muted response by the NLD and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on the issue of Rohingya has been quite discouraging (we would have to find out why?). With such a lack of initiative on reconciliation in Arakan, more Rohingya are likely to resort to fleeing the country. It is a high time for all concerned -- starting with the Burmese political and religious leaders -- to pave ways for these communities towards reconciliation and of peaceful co-existence. Failing to do so, our own Asian region

will be experiencing more desperate Rohingya fleeing Arakan and witnessing many more heart-breaking loss-oflives at sea.
References: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Press release 14/2012 by Rakhine Nationalities Development Party () dated 26/6/2012

Myanmar Rohingya refugees rescued in Thailand


More than 700 migrants, fleeing persecution in Myanmar, to be deported by authorities after rescue from traffickers.
Thai authorities say that they have rescued nearly 700 people from Myanmar's beleaguered Rohingya minority who were being held by alleged human traffickers in the country's south. Police Major-Colonel Thanusin Duangkaewngam said police and government officials raided a warehouse in Sadao district in Songkhla province on Friday and rescued 307 Rohingya boat people. The migrants told police that they had voluntarily come to Thailand as part of a journey to a third country.

Rohingya refugees in Thailand are either deported or sent to other countries offering them asylum [Reuters]

Police arrested eight suspects believed to be traffickers. The authorities also raided makeshift shelters in the same district on Thursday and discovered 397 Rohingya, including 11 women and 12 children. Officials say the migrants will be repatriated to Myanmar. The migrants had languished in the warehouses for three months, waiting to be trafficked to a "third country", local police said. "They are now waiting for deportation which will be done by Thailand's immigration police," Lieutenant Colonel Katika Jitbanjong of Padang Besar local police told the AFP news agency. "They told officials that they had volunteered to come [to Thailand]," he said, adding police were seeking an arrest warrant for the Thai landowner on charges of human trafficking and sheltering illegal migrants. Human rights activists have called for the Thai government not to deport the Rohingya to Myanmar, where they face widespread discrimination.Thailand has refused to offer refugee status to the Rohingya, choosing instead to either deport those found to have illegally entered the country, or sending them to Malaysia, which offers sanctuary to the minority. "Thailand is pursuing a beggar-thy neighbour approach," according to Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch Asia. "Thailand is using the good policy of its neighbour [Malaysia] to escape its own international obligation to protect refugees and it is shameful." The UN refugee agency has called on Myanmar's neighbours to open their borders to people fleeing a wave of communal violence in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine. Clashes between Buddhists and Muslims have left at least 180 people dead in Rakhine since June, and displaced more than 110,000 others, mostly Rohingya. Myanmar views the roughly 800,000 Rohingya in Rakhine as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship. Although the tensions have eased since a new outbreak of killings in October, concerns have grown about the fate of asylum-seekers setting sail in overcrowded boats. Last week, Thailand deported 73 Rohingya boat people back to Myanmar, after they landed on the southern island of Phuket.##

The ICC: Protection for the Rohingya?

Monday, January 07, 2013 Article

By Regina Paulose

In November 2012, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the ICC released its Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2012, which examines situations in various countries for acts which could potentially amount to crimes against humanity and/or war crimes. Some of the countries mentioned in this report are North Korea, Columbia, and Afghanistan.[1] While one could question some of the cases the OTP is currently investigating,[2] this author takes the position that there are other atrocious human rights situations which need the immediate attention of the ICC. In particular, the OTP should begin to make efforts to investigate and address the continued persecution and abuse of the Rohingya population in Burma.[3]

The Status Quo Conflict and Response
Rohingya trace their ancestry to ancient Indian Bengali people of Chandra dynasty in Arakan, Arabs, Turks, Persians, Pathans, Bengalis and some Indo-Mongoloid people. Thus Rohingya are a people developed from peoples of different ethnical background over the centuries. According to some scholars, the Rohingyas origins are not entirely clear.[4] Setting aside this debate, the Rohingya mainly reside in Burma on the western side. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in Burma where the majority of the population is Buddhist. It is estimated that there are currently 800,000 to 1 million Rohingya living in Burma. Since the 1970s the regime in Burma has been trying to drive out or restrict the Rohingya.[5] This sentiment was put into law in 1982 when it created a Citizenship Law, which mandates that a person must prove their Burmese ancestry dating back to 1823 in order to have freedom of movement and access to other basic rights such as education in the country.[6] (Recall: Armenian Genocide and Nazi Germany). This law is one of the prime reasons why the Rohingya have become stateless. The Rohingya have been the target of violence and recent clashes, which has left dozens dead and tens of thousands internally displaced.[7] One does not have to look further than the last 8 months to truly see how the regime continues to treat the Rohingya. In June 2012, an outbreak in communal violence between the Buddhist and Muslim Rakhine and the Rohingya lead to massive sweeps resulting in detention of Rohingya men and boys. (Recall the massacre at Srebrenica). Reports indicated that these groups were subject to ill treatment and were held incommunicado.[8] In October 2012, satellite images showed that homes of the Rohingya were being destroyed by security forces. The security forces then overwhelmed and cornered the Rohingya to drive them out of the area. This destruction is on top of the gruesome reports of beheading and killing of women and children.[9] (Recall: Rwanda). Faced with no other alternatives and with no access to justice in their country, the Rohingya have begun to flee only to be met with rejection from other countries. On the first day of 2013, some members of the Rohingya group were intercepted by Thai authorities and were deported back to Burma.[10] The Thai Navy is under orders to send them away from Thailand. Bangladesh has also expressed that it is not willing to accept Rohingya into their country. Some countries however are reaching out to the Rohingya. Malaysia does accept the Rohingya as refugees. Iran recently sent humanitarian aid in order to help and has called upon the UN to take action.[11] Regionally, ASEAN offered to conduct talks but that was rejected. The regime explained that it sees the escalating violence as an internal problem.[12]

After a close examination of these events, the U.S. Presidential visit in November 2012, made the waters murky. President Obama felt that Burma was moving in a better direction and that there were flickers of progress. During the visit the President met with an advocate of the Rohingya population. While President Obama stated that his visit was not an endorsement of the current government, simple questions arise as to what the U.S. would be willing to do (or not do) to prevent this sectarian violence from escalating.[13] Not surprisingly, after the visit, Thein Sein made 2013 human rights news, when his regime admitted to using air raids against the Kachin rebels who are battling the government for control over certain territories.[14]

The ICC and its potential involvement

There are two interesting points of discussion that this scenario creates. The first is how the OTP would be able to meet jurisdictional requirements if it were to seriously consider prosecution. The controversial propio motupowers of the Prosecutor would allow her to investigate this situation. Articles 13, 15, and 53 of the Rome Statute require temporal jurisdiction, territorial or personal jurisdiction, and material jurisdiction. In addition, there are requirements in the Statute concerning admissibility. Burma is not a state party to the Rome Statute. The real challenge with this case would be with meeting the territorial or personal jurisdiction elements. Of course the easiest way to meet this requirement would be if the UN Security Council (UNSC) would be willing to refer the case as it did with Bashir of Sudan.[15] As stated above, the U.S. Presidential visit does not make clear at this time what the U.S. position would be, especially considering the U.S. also eased sanctions, perhaps as a symbol of new relations, on the regime in November. Another interesting point of discussion also concerns the potential charges. This author believes that this is a strong case for various charges under crimes against humanity. Charges under war crimes would prove to be interesting, depending on how the situation is viewed. As previously noted, the regime has continuously called the situation with the Rohingya an internal problem. The situation with the Rohingya can be distinguished from the conflict with the Kachin rebel/soldiers who are fighting for territory and independence. Some other kind of action is now necessary besides dialogue and commentary from high level UN officials. Our cries of never again have become hollow. The purpose of the ICC should be to facilitate deterrence in addition to punish perpetrators of grave crimes. The international community waits for these situations to become so grave that every action becomes too late. We cannot say we are students of history, when we continually are faced with the same situations over again and repeat the same mistakes. Our ability to ignore tragedy has come at the expense of hundreds of thousands of lives.

Endnotes:[1] A copy of this report can be found at ICC Coalition website which keeps an excellent record of documents pertaining to the ICC and the OTP: [2] This author questions some of the potential charging decisions being made by the ICC for instance the case involving North Korea and South Korea, is a clear act of aggression, but is under examination as a war crime. The death toll in this case is 22 people. The OTP is spending resources in Colombia, to assess whether the government is prosecuting the FARC properly. The author concurs that these cases are worthy of ICC attention, but questions why the ICC wont deal with situations that are ongoing which need immediate intervention. (Besides financial reasons). [3] The great name debate: the U.S. recognizes the official name of the country as Burma. Myanmar is the name was introduced by the former military regime, 23 years ago, and is preferred by the current regime. President Obama reportedly did refer to the country as Myanmar out of diplomatic courtesy when meeting with Thein Sein, President in November 2012. See

[4] For a comprehensive report on the Rohingya situation, see Human Rights Watch, The Government Could Have Stopped This a report released July 31, 2012 and available at . Khaled Ahmed, Who are the Rohingya? The Express Tribune, July 31, 2012, available at: [5] Gianluca Mezzofiore, Myanmar Rohingya Muslims: The Hidden Genocide August 22, 2012, at: [6] UNHCR, Rohingya, available at:,,USCIS,,MMR,,3ae6a6a41c,0.html [7] UN News Centre, Independent UN expert calls on Myanmar to carry out latest human rights pledges. November 20, 2012, available at: [8] Amnesty International, Myanmar: Abuses against Rohingya erode human rights progress. July 19, 2012, available at: [9] Human Rights Watch, Burma: Satellite Images Show Widespread Attacks on Rohingya November 17, 2012 available at: [10] Human Rights Watch, Thailand: at: Dont Deport Rohingya Boat People January 2, 2013, available available

[11] Ahlul Bayt News Agency, Iran to Send 30 tons of Humanitarian Aid to Myanmars Rohingyas January 5, 2013, available at: [12] ALJAZEERA, Myanmar rejects talks on ethnic violence October 31, 2012, available at: [13] Although I thoroughly question the impact of sanctions and their utility, some sanctions were eased on Burma in the days leading up to the Presidential visit. [14] See Thomas Fuller, Myanmar Military Admits to Airstrikes on Kachin Rebels New York Times, January 2, 2013, available at: See also Associated Press, Myanmars Kachin rebels accuse government of artillery attack on headquarter city January 6, 2013, available at: [15] For more information regarding this see Ammar Mohammeds post for this month analyzing and commenting on the UNSC referral of the Sudan case.



Human Rights Watch on Thursday blasted the Bangladeshi governments cruel restrictions on humanitarian aid to Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing persecution and violence in neighbouring Myanmar. The South Asian nation last month ordered three international charities -- Doctors Without Borders, Action Against Hunger and Muslim Aid UK -- to stop giving aid to the Rohingya because it might encourage a fresh influx. Bangladesh is already home to some 300,000 Rohingya and the countrys border forces have turned back scores of boats carrying hundreds more since sectarian violence broke out in Myanmar, formerly Burma, in June. The Bangladeshi government is trying to make conditions for Rohingya refugees already living in Bangladesh so awful that people fleeing brutal abuses in neighboring Burma will stay home, said HRWs refugee policy director Bill Frelick.


This is a cruel and inhumane policy that should immediately be reversed, he said.The New York-based rights group said Dhaka had signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which prohibits the country from denying those within its borders, including refugees, access to food and healthcare. The three charities provide water, healthcare, sanitation and other basic aid to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Aid workers have said the conditions in the makeshift camps for Rohingya are among the worst in the world. Speaking a Bengali dialect similar to one in southeast Bangladesh, the Rohingya people are Muslims seen as illegal immigrants by Buddhistmajority Myanmar and viewed by the UN as one of the worlds most persecuted minorities. ##
Women and children are adrift on boats on the River Naf

Bangladesh has turned back scores of boats carrying hundreds since sectarian violence in Myanmar.



By Dr. Maung Zarni
Saturday, November 24, 2012 Today's Thoughts
#1 Early anti-Rohingya policy
I would call the military's policy towards the Rohingya "structural genocide", a systematic and sustained act of policy maintained and pursued, irrespective of which general or ex-general is in charge. This includes various severe restrictions and other punitive acts in order to create living conditions as unattractive and unbearable as possible so that they would voluntarily exit Burma - and which thousands have done. (after the Caretaker Government of General Ne Win took care of the restive Rakhine nationalists and their demand for autonomous Statehood in the 1950s. The Rohingya were useful as a counter-force towards the Rakhine nationalists in Arakan).

#2 Mass expulsion
"Naga Min" (meaning "conqueror of all Kulars") (or literally Dragon King) Expulsion Operation to expel the Rohingya (this operation was led by the man known as Ne Win's Butcher Brigadier General Sein Lwin, a conservative Buddhist monastery product born in an Upper Burma village and raised by the Burma Army, whose formal Buddhist education stopped at 4th Grade. Sein Lwin was also in charge of the bloody crackdown of 8.8.88 uprisings) Bangladesh, emerging out of its civil war of East and West Pakistan as an independent nation, openly threatened Ne Win's regime by telling General Ne Win that Burma needed to take these Rohinga refugees back, or Bangladesh had ample stockpiles of arms to give away to the angry Rohingyas. That was when Ne Win and his deputies backed down and took 200,000 Rohingya refugees back). General Ne Win was the country's best known racist, especially with a rather virulent strain of anti-Muslim and Christian racisms. He was the only Burmese general who ordered mosques in Mandalay to stop any early morning prayers which are generally amplified through loud-speakers mounted atop mosques every time he stayed in the Northwest Command Military Headquarters inside Mandalay's walled city (the Palace). Ne Win embarked on the policy of cleansing of the Burma Army of any officer who was not a Buddhist. There was one or two exception. But as a matter of policy, Christian and Muslim officers were forced out of any position of importance early in their careers. Since Ne Win's time, the successive MILITARY regimes, including Thein Sein's, has been on autopilot with this cleanse-the-army-and-the-government of Christians and Muslims.

#3 Citizenship denial

Ne Win's regime stripped the Rohingyas citizenship and de-acknowledge the officially recognized "Rohingya", and re-wrote citizenship law in line with anti-Rohingya racism. This was a direct response to the fact that they felt forced to take the Rohingya refugees back from Bangladesh.

Now the current verification process undertaken by the Border Affairs Minister under Than Shwe's pet Lt-General Thein Htay involves forcing through threats the Rohingya families in camps and other locations to write down their ethnic origin as "Bangali" and, in some cases, enticing them of the promise of full citizenship and other protections.


#4 Illegal Migration from Bangladesh

there were in-flow of Bangladeshi migrants into Western Burma. It would be untrue to say that there were no illegal immigration coming to Burma from Bangladesh. Before the situation in Arakan State worsened progressively some Bangladeshi attempted to enter Northern Arakan state via boats. According to veteran Burma naval officers, they wouldn't even bother arresting or sending these boat-loads of illegal Bangadeshi in Burmese waters. They simply blew entire boats up - no bodies, no traces, no need to waste man-power to arrest, house, feed and process them for deportation.

#5 Outsourcing ethnic cleansing and genocide to the local Rakhine

The recent waves of violence against the Rohingya which began in June was the opposite of the earliest postindependence policy which used the local Rohingya by recognizing them as a national ethnic group and administering them as a special group directly by the Head of the Rakhine State Security Forces (mostly Tatmadaw).

The Rakhine State Security Head was the late Colonel Kyaw Soe who later became Minister of Home Affairs in Ne Win's early Revolutionary Council Government and who was operationally responsible for blowing up Rangoon University Student Union. The violence against the Rohingya and the rise in anti-Muslim racism were the direct outcome of the State's ethnic mobilization - in fact, directly through the facebook of Presidential Office Director and Government Spokesperson - you can't get any more Presidential than that!, all State broadcast and print media outlets, and the crony-owned private media outlets such as the Voice Weekly of Myanmar Egress and Eleven Day News Group.

#6 Acting contradictory and inconsistent as a matter of policy

There are elements that are not directly or even indirectly affiliated with Thein Sein government, who have been involved in the violence against the Rohingya. They are acting out of their own calculations, politically and ethically motivated. These cannot be construed as part of the regime's designs against the Rohingya. What IS part of the regime's designs is they would give the troops different and often seemingly contradictory orders from the Central Command. Local Rakhine admin and authorities dare NOT act on anything without Naypyidaw's knowledge and command. So, what appears to be local acts are in fact greenlighted by Naypyidaw. Half-century of only taking orders from the highest authorities cannot be erased after 2 years of luke-warm democratization and devolution.

One of the reasons that outsiders, including human rights researchers, can't get their head around is why certain local security forces are protecting Muslims and Rakhines in one place and other local forces were siding with the Rakhine skin-heads in slaughtering the Rohingya and Muslims. That was precisely because the troops were given different orders from central command, depending on the contexts. This seeming contradiction was meant

to give the general international impression that the government is UNABLE or UNWILLING to end the 'sectarian conflict/violence'. This comes up far short of capturing the central role the State itself is playing through various sophisticated techniques of outsourcing and incitement of large scale attacks on the Rohingya and to a lesser extent the other Muslims.

# 8 President Inquiry Commission

Established on 16 August 2012 in the face of the mounting threats from the Organization of the Islamic Conference of 57 UN member states, Naypyidaw scrambled a diverse group of 27 Burmese and showcased them as "independent-minded upstanding citizens" who will get to the bottom of the "sectarian violence" in Arakan State. Well, at the bottom is Naypyidaw. Why would the generals and ex-generals want to anyone to sniff for real truths and share them with the whole wide world? They know exactly what transpired - because they have been involved in the attempted genocide for nearly 40 years. So, as glamorous and respectable sounding as it is, the Presidential Inquiry is a decoy, a ploy and one of the biggest jokes of contemporary Myanmar!

# 7 Where is "democratic" Myanmar heading after Rohingya ethnic cleansing or genocide?

An institutionalized Apartheid in Western Burma and anti-Muslim racist behavior across the country and all kinds of racism against the Chinese, Christians, etc.

# 8 What are the gains for Naypyidaw?

Too many to list. But have a glance here

Who and what gains from Myanmar's Genocide of the Rohingya and other Muslims ?
The site of massive violence and arson of Rohingya and other Muslim neighborhood in Kyauk Hpyu happened to be the site where China is planning a Special Econ and Technological Zone. Why bother with mass eviction and typical Myanmar land grab when you have locally produced Genocide against the Rohingya and other Muslim inhabitants as a tool of 'developmental policy'? It serves many purposes: 1) it makes the local Rakhine Kular-haters happy; 2) it rallies the majority "Buddhist" behind "Buddhism" and Naypyidaw's sociopaths in reformist guise; 3) it further chips away the Lady's popularity abroad (beyond her new role as "business cover"); 4) it serves as a mass psycho-therapy for the oppressed of Burma who have 50-years' worth of pent-up hate, bitterness, anger and powerlessness; 5) it afforded the military strategists to play "political and historical anesthesiologist" with the "Buddhist" masses, most importantly the monks themselves who now rally behind the very army that slaughtered their Saffron monks only 5 years ago; 6) it gave again the regime in Naypyidaw a chance to frame the issue as "preemptive strike against 'radical Islam', which is the language of Washington; and

7) it allows space for political manipulations by disgruntled elements who have an ax to grind against Than Shwe who left them marginalized in the new power-wealth set-up. A potent version of traditional "Buddhist" racism and racialism have been revived in the service of the militant and militaristic "democratic" government which now speaks softly, that is, getting better at spins but remains as ruthless and callous as it has ever been since 1962 coup. Monks are happy with the regime. NLD has no real voice or power in the Parliament, no intellectual or policy input other than calling for greater deployment of troops in the conflict/violence-prone Arakan State. Plus its leader Daw ASSK has been making utterances without having done her homework about Bangladesh and its alleged illegal immigrants to Burma (while Thein Sein cleverly downplayed this issue in his VOA Burmese interview with Than Lwin Htun after the expel-or-cage-the-Bangali illegals fiasco - during the meeting with the visiting UNHCR head 5 months ago).

#9 Does this all sound conspiratorial? You betcha!

The Generals do NOT inherit power or influence - 99% of them do NOT have famous dead fathers or grandfathers or -mothers. They know it. Everything they have they have worked at it. We can say they have "earned" the power to rule through CONSPIRING tirelessly round the clock. They have plans A-Z in order to make sure 1) they do NOT ever have to give up the ultimate control over Burma's political and power institutions and 2) Aung San Suu Kyi never becomes head of state or have any real power in Burmese politics, beyond the illusion of policy influence. Welcome to our ugly majoritarian neo-Fascist democracy run by militarists! ##

Over 600 illegal Rohingya migrants held in Thai raids

Fri, 11 Jan 2013 09:23 GMT Source: reuters // Reuters
Rohingya migrants walk in line to board a prison bus in Ranong prison in southwestern Thailand before being transported to provincial immigration January 31, 2009. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang
By Amy Sawitta Lefevre


BANGKOK, Jan 11 (Reuters) - At least 600 Rohingya Muslims believed to be illegal migrants from Myanmar have been detained in Thailand after two raids by the authorities near the border with Malaysia, police said on Friday. More than 300 Rohingya were discovered on Tuesday in a building in

the town of Sadao, while a second raid on Thursday at a rubber plantation near the border town of Pedang Besar uncovered 393 more, including 14 children and 8 women. "These illegal migrants have been handed over to immigration authorities and will be deported back to Myanmar," Police Colonel Krissakorn Paleetunyawong, deputy commander of police in the area, told Reuters. An estimated 800,000 Rohingyas live in Myanmar but are officially stateless. The Myanmar government denies them citizenship, regarding them as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, but Bangladesh does not recognise them as citizens either. Hundreds make their way abroad each year by boat, especially to Malaysia, in search of a better life, an exodus given added impetus after recent sectarian violence between minority Rohingyas and majority Buddhist in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine. The raids in southern Thailand were led by the army and police as part of what they call anti-human-trafficking operations. "The Rohingyas were en route to Malaysia and the camp we found was used as a holding facility by middlemen paid to facilitate their journey," said Lieutenant Colonel Katika Jitbanjong of Padang Besar police station.

Rescued Rohingya Boat Peoples from Human-traffickers are awaiting for interrogation by the police in Southern Thailand.


Last week, Thai authorities found 73 Rohingya boat people adrift near the holiday island of Phuket. They sent the asylum seekers, who arrived in rickety and overcrowded boats, back to sea in Thai fishing boats, New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch said. Various rights groups called then for the Thai government to scrap its policy of summarily deporting Rohingyas who land up in Thailand. In two separate incidents in 2008, the military pushed 992 Rohingya boat people back to sea without food and water and hundreds may have died, activists have said. The United Nations estimates about 13,000 boat people, including many Rohingya, fled Myanmar and neighbouring Bangladesh in 2012, a sharp increase from the previous year. Thailand and Singapore refuse to provide asylum to members of the Muslim minority group while Bangladesh has closed its border to them. "Thailand should scrap its inhumane policy of summarily deporting the Rohingya, who have been brutally persecuted in Burma, and honour their right to seek asylum," said Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch. (Editing by Alan Raybould and Robert Birsel) ##

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thailand detains 200 Rohingya boat people fleeing from Myanmar

Thailand says it has intercepted a boat carrying 200 Myanmarese Rohingyas near the southwestern island of Phuket and has detained the refugees.

The Rohingya refugees were spotted off Racha Noi Island in Phukets Muang district on Tuesday. The Thai Naval Force said the refugees were provided with food and water. On Monday, Thai National Security Council Secretary General Paradorn Pattanathabutr stated that Thailand would no longer allow Rohingya boat people fleeing ethnic violence in Myanmar to enter the country.

Rohingya Boat Peoples detained by Thai police are transferring to a detention camps

"The Thai navy from now on will be stricter with them and will no longer allow them to land," AFP quoted Pattanathabutr as saying. In recent months, a large number of Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled to Thailand. Some 800,000 Rohingyas are deprived of citizenship rights due to the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of citizenship and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion, and displacement. The Myanmar government has so far refused to extricate the stateless Rohingyas in the western state of Rakhine from their citizenship limbo, despite international pressure to give them a legal status. Rohingya Muslims have faced torture, neglect, and repression in Myanmar for many years. Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in recent attacks by extremists who call themselves Buddhists. The extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and have set fire to their homes in several villages in Rakhine. Myanmar Army forces allegedly provided the fanatics containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who are then forced to flee. Myanmars government has been accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority. Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also come under fire for her stance on the violence. The Nobel Peace laureate has refused to censure the Myanmarese military for its persecution of the Rohingyas. Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued separate statements, calling on Myanmar to take action to protect the Rohingya Muslim population against extremists. NT/HGL##

Fresh wave of Rohingya refugees arrive south of Phuket

Phuket Gazette - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 12:34:47 PM

By Kritsada Mueanhawong, Phuket,Thailand

An estimated 200 Rohingya refugees landed on the uninhabited island of Koh Racha Noi, 25 kilometers south of Phuket, this morning. Photo: Royal Thai Navy
PHUKET: An estimated 200 Rohingya refugees landed on Koh Racha Noi this morning, as reports simultaneously flooded in of another convoy, carrying about 180 men, women and children, coming ashore at Koh Phra

Thong on the Phang Nga coast. We have received reports of about 200 men, women and children travelling in two open boats landing on Koh Racha Noi, an officer of the Royal Thai Navy confirmed to the Phuket Gazette.


Another 180 Rohingya Boat people have landed on Koh Phra Thong, in Phang Nga on 29 January 2013.
We have also received reports that another 180 Rohingya have landed on Koh Phra Thong, in Phang Nga, the officer added. Rawai Deputy Mayor Nikorn Foosaksomboon told the Gazette that his office is dispatching a boat to Koh Racha Noi with basic provisions and water to render assistance to the refugees. We will be sending medical officers as soon as we can to make sure they are okay, he added. Racha Noi lies about 25 kilometers south of Phromthep Cape, Phukets southernmost tip. The island is a popular day-trip destination for Phuket tourists to snorkel and scuba dive. The news of more Rohingya landing along the Andaman seaboard comes as immigration facilities in Phang Nga are already overloaded by the huge influx of Rohingya in recent weeks. Officials have been forced to relocate hundreds of Rohingya to immigration centers in other provinces across Southern Thailand (story here). State news agency MCOT reported yesterday that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought clarification from a variety of agencies on the plight and options for the well over 1,000 Rohingya migrants currently in Thai custody (story here). Commission member Niran Pitakvachara said the Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand, led by Vinai Salem, recently petitioned the agency to help prevent the repatriation of Rohingya migrants to Myanmar, their country of origin. A total of 1,486 Rohingya ethnic people have been detained at various shelters in Southern Thailand. Among them, 264 are women and children, said the MCOT report. Additional reporting by Chutharat Plerin ##


Rohingya smuggler racket details aired

Migrants pay B65,000 each, House panel told
Rohingya migrants pay 60,000 baht to 65,000 baht each to smugglers to get into Thailand, Maung Kyaw Nu, president of the Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand, said Wednesday. He was speaking before the House committee on law, judiciary and human rights at parliament. The session was attended by state and private organisations concerned with the Rohingya migration issue. Kyaw Nu said he would encourage the government to grant Rohingya migrants who have arrived in Thailand temporary permission to live and work and receive health care here.

31 January 2013 Online news

Past ethnic cleansing in Myanmar in which more than 50,000 Rohingya were killed in six months had driven Rohingya to seek shelter in Thailand, according to Kyaw Nu. The Myanmar authorities had tried to cover up the actual number of Rohingya people killed in the ethnic cleansing, he said. Kyaw Nu also called on the United Nations to send a peace-keeping force to Myanmar to ensure safety for Rohingya migrants in the event they were sent back home. He also urged UN agencies to provide temporary shelter in Myanmar for Rohingya deported from Thailand. A total of 1,486 Rohingya migrants have been rounded up here since early this month, the House panel was told. Also attending the hearing were Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, the national police chief, the navy commander, the 4th Army commander, and the governors of Satun, Narathiwat and Songkhla. Mr Surapong said

the government had decided to take care of the illegal Rohingya migrants for six months. The estimated cost of food for each migrant per day was 75 baht, he said. The male Rohingya migrants were being detained at the Immigration Bureau while women and children were staying at the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security's shelters for children and women, he said. The ministry would take ambassadors from member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to visit various sites where Rohingya are held to observe the problem, Mr Surapong said. The ministry has held talks with international human rights organisations about whether they can ask third countries to grant asylum to the Rohingya migrants. The ministry was also seeking to work with its Myanmar counterpart to ensure the safety of the Rohingya in the event they have to return to Myanmar, Mr Surapong said. Security agencies plan to ask the government to build detention centres for Rohingya arrivals in Songkhla and Ranong. Officials have yet to settle on the locations but say each batch of arriving migrants will not stay at the centres longer than six months.Tell us what you think about this article ##

350 Rohingya found in Ranong, Phuket

Published: 30 Jan 2013 at 00.00 - Newspaper section: News


Nearly 350 illegal Rohingya migrants were found crammed inside two vessels entering Thai waters in southern Ranong and Phuket provinces on Tuesday. In Ranong, a boat carrying about 140 Rohingya migrants was spotted floating about 5.5 kilometres off Phayam island in Muang district about 8.30am by a naval patrol boat. Naval officers provided the illegal migrants with food and water, a source said. Humanitarian assistance was also provided to help them on the way to their destination. The Rohingya had to be sent back out to sea as authorities were already struggling with an influx of illegal Muslim

Rohingya migrants, the source said. Several boats carrying Rohingya have illegally entered Thailand via this southern province on a daily basis. In some cases, the Rohingya sunk their own boats to prevent authorities from sending them back out to sea, the source said. In Phuket, about 200 illegal Rohingya migrants were found crammed inside a vessel searched by marine police and naval officers off Racha Noi island in Muang district Tuesday. The boat was initially spotted floating between Racha Yai and Racha Noi islands by fishermen on Monday. They provided the migrants with food and water and told the authorities. They suggested the boat people land on Racha Noi, Phuket's southernmost island, because it was uninhabited. Some of the migrants camped on the island overnight, but most remained on the boat. A combined marine police and navy team descended on the boat late Tuesday. It was not known where they were planning to take the refugees. The 200 Rohingya are the latest to reach southern Thailand, following a series of arrests in Songkhla and at sea in Phangnga province this month. This lifts the total number of illegal Rohingya migrants now in custody to about 1,700. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul will lead a delegation of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) members to meet Islamic leaders and security agencies in the three southernmost border provinces tomorrow. He said the delegation would get first-hand information about the southern violence.

Rescued Rohingyas smuggler rackets in southern Thailand

He will also use this opportunity to seek a solution to the Rohingya migrant problem from the OIC and ask the delegation which countries wanted to take in the migrants who had fled from Myanmar's Rakhine state to Thailand. As those migrants had entered Thailand, the kingdom had to provide them with temporary assistance on a humanitarian basis, he said. Authorities had to work with several international agencies such as Unicef and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to find a solution.##


96 More Rohingya Found at Sea

Published: 26 Jan 2013 at 18.28 - Online news: Local News
PHANGNGA - Security forces on Saturday rounded up another 96 Rohingya migrants in the Andaman Sea, the fourth group to reach southern Thailand in less than a month, Spring News Agency reported. The 62 men, six women and 28 children were found in a long-tailed boat floating north of Koh Ra in tambon Koh Phra Thong of Takua Pa district. All of them were in exhausted condition and some were sick. The migrants were arrested by a team made up of border patrol, marine police and administrative officers after they had been alerted to the suspicious vessel. The refugees had left Arakan State in western Myanmar on Jan 1, aiming to come ashore in either Thailand or Malaysia. They wanted to look for jobs after their houses and property had been occupied by Myanmar authorities, Spring News reported, quoting local authorities. The illegal migrants, who are in poor physical condition, had brought only fresh water and uncooked rice with them during the 26-day sea journey. Officials gave them food and water before sending them to a temporary shelter in Khura Buri district, where they later received health checkups by medical personnel. Doctors gave saline solution to 12 sickened Rohingya. Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said earlier that a total of 1,390 illegal Rohingya migrants including children were currently in authorities custody. Saturdays arrest has raised the total to almost 1,500. Mr Surapong announced on Friday that Thailand would shelter the Royingya for six months and seek talks with Myanmar and other countries to settle the fate of the illegal migrants. The decision was reached in talks between the Foreign Ministry and other security agencies amid growing calls for Thailand not to turn the migrants away after they have entered the kingdom. The government will set aside a budget of 12 million baht or 75 baht a day for each of the migrants for a daily allowance.

Bangkok will hold talks with international agencies including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. It would also approach third countries willing to give the migrants a new home, the minister said. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in Myanmar. Most of them live in Rakhine state in the west and face brutal treatment from Myanmar authorities, including the reluctance of Nay Pyi Taw to grant them citizenship. The current crisis came to light after authorities rounded up more than 900 Rohingya in separate operations in Songkhla as they were waiting to be sent to work in Malaysia. A police investigation found some Thai army soldiers were linked to trafficking them from Myanmar to Malaysia through Thailand. Two of them based in the southernmost region are being probed in connection with the issue. ##

Alders Ledge Silently Exploring The Absurdity Of Mankind

January 19, 2013

Hunted Down Like Dogs

RNDP Puts Up A "Bounty" For Every Dead Rohingya(part of The Darkness Visible series)
(They are Now A Commodity, Sold As A Slave Or Killed For A Bounty)
Rakhine Prime Minister, U Hla Maung Tin, arrived at Pauktaw this morning and made a beeline for the Rohingya refugee camp. Once there the PM fell in line with his party (the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party) by demanding that the Rohingya in the internally displaced peoples' camp sign documents that state that they are illegal immigrants. The documents state that the Rohingya are illegal Bangladeshi immigrants that have no claim to Burmese citizenship. These documents would be used therefore to deport the Rohingya to a country that has shown no interest whatsoever in accepting them. And without actual legal documents to show that they are either Burmese or Bengali, the Rohingya would officially in Burmese courts be "stateless". When the Rohingya in the camp refused to sign the documents Maung Tin threatened the refugees and left. Maung Tin told the Rohingya refugees that if they did not sign that he would see to it that no aid ever made it through the blockades again (including rice from the foreign aid organizations). The RNDP went further by going to Rakhine villages and camps to pass around word of just what these threats entailed. The RNDP then went on to tell the Rakhine that they would pay one lakh kyats for every Rohingya, or kalar (a slur for the Rohingya), they kill. Together, Maung Tin and the RNDP, are making threats that could lead to a return to the June and October riots that launched their genocidal campaign.

This tactic of "sign or die" has been getting used more and more as the campaign of ethnic cleansing has been amped up. In addition to calling on renewed butchery by the RNDP, the Rakhine extremist have maintained their blockades of Rohingya villages and camps. The RNDP has also begun encouraging Rakhine from Bangladesh and impoverished areas of the Arakan to move into Rohingya villages. By calling the Rakhine "settlers" the RNDP shows that they are intent upon wiping out the memory of these Rohingya villages that were burnt or bulldozed. With all the actions taken recently by a major Burmese political party to kill and deport an entire minority one might wonder how the outside world is ignoring this? Time and time again Alder's Ledge has brought proof of genocide taking place right now in Burma and yet these same articles fail to show up in mainstream media. So once again I'm sure there are those wondering just how something like that which has been shown above can take place without their media source covering it. I'm sure there are still far to many people with their eyes closed to this subject to understand that genocide is taking place as they sleep. So imagine for a moment that you are a Rohingya trapped behind barbed wire and military checkpoints. Imagine that your family and friends are starving to death as you pick through the grass for any source of food you can find. Imagine that your government, your homeland, is treating you as though you aren't even human. Now imagine that you aren't allowed to leave... you aren't even allowed to travel to neighboring villages or camps.

All you know is hunger. All you know is pain. All you know is desperation.
Now imagine that the only way out is to flee by boat. Yet to do this you have to sell everything you have and scavenge for something to bribe the boat's owner. Imagine that you have no way to know if this boat will make it to the presumed safety of Malaysia or not. All you can do is hope that the Nasaka don't catch you as you drift off into the night. Imagine that while you starve to death you are approached by Rakhine who promise they can get you out of Myanmar. Imagine that you are asked to sign a paper in exchange for a promise of a better life. Imagine that you don't realize that this paper will make you a slave and that you will be sold in Thailand or Bangladesh.

But imagine that you stay...

Now try to imagine that the RNDP just visited your village. Imagine that you just heard them proclaim that your Rakhine neighbor can earn cash money just for killing you. You know that your local police don't stop these attacks. You know that the military sides with the RNDP. You know that there is nowhere you can run. Now imagine that you are being hunted... but instead of running, you can only wait for your hunter to strike. You know that you are like a caged animal. You know that there is nowhere in you homeland that you can hide. This is the life of nearly a million Rohingya trapped in Burma. This is how the government of Myanmar has allowed ethnic cleansing to occur in the Arakan. The Burmese have committed a forced famine, constructed death camps, blockaded entire villages, and permitted the wholesale slaughter of the Rohingya people. It is a story that would enrage the common citizens of the West. It is a narrative that would sell papers across America and Europe. And it is a tragedy that the West could exploit at a moment's notice. Yet the prospects of Myanmar's untapped wealth have curtailed the actions these crimes demand. Once again the numbers were run and the prospect of economic gain topped the cost of saving lives. ## flow of assistance to the Rohingya in Thailand.##


Rohingya: Only 4 meals in 16 days at sea

Phuket Gazette - Thursday, January 24, 2013 5:06:28 PM

By Kritsada Mueanhawong, Phuket,Thailand

All 179 of the refugees were exhausted after surviving 16 days at sea on just four meals of water and uncooked rice. Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong
PHUKET: The 179 Rohingya taken into custody north of Phuket yesterday survived on four meals of uncooked rice in their 16 days at sea, one of the survivors told officials. Local fishermen spotted the refugees fleeing escalating ethnic violence in their

native Rakhine State in Myanmar off the Phang Nga coast at about 11am.

About 30 officers from the Kuraburi District Office, Takuapa Border Patrol Police and Phang Nga Marine Police intercepted the single boat the refugees were travelling in about three nautical miles north of Koh Phra Thong (map here). They departed Rakhine State in Myanmar on January 7. They were at sea for 16 days, hoping to reach Thailand or Malaysia in order to find work, Kuraburi District Chief Manit Pianthong said. "They all are exhausted." They said they had only four meals of uncooked rice and water since they left the state, he added. The refugees were taken to Kuraburi Community Hall. Nineteen of them were in need of urgent treatment and were immediately placed on saline drips by medical staff. Doctors and nurses were called in to take care of them some of the refugees have fevers and others have open wounds. Doctors have placed them all on a course of antibiotics, Chief Manit said. Officers have to provide them with food, drink and other care before handing them over to Phang Nga Immigration for deportation, he added. This latest arrival of Rohingya refugees in Phang Nga follows a welfare shelter in Khukkhak (story here), also in Phang Nga, on Monday calling for donations of daily necessities in order to provide assistance to 46 Rohingya women and children receiving shelter there. ##



24 January 2013

Over 1,300 Rohingyas now detained in Thailand

Report from Government of Thailand - Published on24 Jan 2013View Original

BANGKOK, 24 January 2013 (NNT) - Police have so far detained over 1,300 Rohingyas; while the Defense Minister revealed that up to 4,000 Rohingyas have been picked up in Thailand in the past three months, saying all sides must help solve this problem. Defense Minister Sukampol Suwannathat said the influx of Rohingyas into Thailand is the problem that needs cooperation from all sides in order for it to be solved, especially that from international organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He admitted that up to 4,000 Rohingyas have been caught entering Thailand illegally in the past three months. Clashes and discrimination in Myanmar have forced many Rohingyas to flee their country for shelter, mostly in Malaysia. Meanwhile, police reported that over 1,300 Rohingyas have so far been detained in Thailand. They are under the care of the Thai immigration police and other government agencies. On Wednesday the Border Patrol Police and Phang-Nga Water Police arrested nearly 180 Rohingyas. This group of refugees reportedly left Rakhine in Myanmar on January 7th. While at sea, they consumed only water and four meals of raw rice.


Flood of refugees should be discussed by Asean, NHRC says.

In Songkhla, the Rohingyas who were asked to identify the people who trafficked them were too scared to do so. Only after the officials had assured them of their safety that they pointed out the culprit, but then a fight broke out between a Rohingya and a detention officer. The officer will be interrogated. Most Rohingyas stranded in Thailand had been tortured, beaten, and deprived of food before the Thai authorities found them. All of them wanted to go to a third country and asked, in fear of their own lives, the Thai officials not to send them back to their country. ##

UNHCR seeks access to Rohingya detained in Thailand

Tue, 15 Jan 2013 10:53 GMT Source: alertnet
BANGKOK (AlertNet) The U.N. refugee agency is struggling to gain access to 790 stateless Rohingya Muslims detained in raids in southern Thailand, amid fears they may be deported back to Myanmar to face persecution and abject conditions. UNHCR has asked the Thai authorities for access to recent irregular boat arrivals and people involved in the raids. We have not been granted it yet, Vivian Tan, the agencys spokesperson, told AlertNet on Tuesday.


Rohingya migrants walk in line to board a prison bus in southwestern Thailand before being transported to provincial immigration on January 31, 2009. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang
Ideally we'd like to speak to these groups to find out who they are, where they came from, and if they need international protection. UNHCR has also urged the Thai government to treat them humanely and not to send them back to a place where their lives and freedoms could be in danger, she added. A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow said the Thai government is conferring with international agencies, including UNHCR, to resolve the issue. UNHCR told AlertNet late Tuesday that while there has been progress in talks with the government, they are still awaiting access to the latest group of Rohingya detainees. More than 600 Rohingya were detained last week in two anti-trafficking raids, but the number had now risen to 790, including 160 children and 30 women, said Lieutenant General Paradorn Pattanathabutr, Secretary General of National Security Council of Thailand. (They) will be sent back to their respective countries or to third countries that want to take them as refugees,he told AlertNet. The traffickers are both Thai and Rohingya, and the detained Rohingya had hoped to reach Malaysia and Indonesia, he said. Some 800,000 Rohingya live in Myanmar's northern Rakhine State under severe government restrictions. Rights groups say they are deprived of free movement, education and employment, and suffer some of the worst discrimination in the world. The Burmese view them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh who deserve neither rights nor sympathy. COMMUNAL VIOLENCE FUELS EXODUS Longstanding tensions between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya turned violent in early June and again in October, killing at least 160 people and displacing more than 110,000 mostly Muslims. A Reuters investigation found the wave of attacks was organised and led by Rakhine nationalists tied to a powerful political party in the state, incited by Buddhist monks and, some witnesses said, abetted at times by local security forces.


Rohingya' Off Phuket as Scale of Trafficker Trade is Revealed

Arakan Project, a Rohingya advocacy group, told AlertNet earlier that more than 10,000 Rohingya have left northern Rakhine State by boat since October 2012, a sharp increase from the previous year. What we really want the Thai authorities to do is to give UNHCR access to (the recently-detained Rohingya) so their status can be determined, said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watchs Asia division. International law requires Thailand not to repatriate persons who would be at risk of persecution if theyre sent back, and clearly the Rohingya fall into that category, he added. The New York-based rights group recently criticised Thailands policy of not accepting the Rohingya, but helping them reach a third destination -- saying it not only fails to protect them as required by international law, but also increases the risk of them falling prey to people smugglers. TRAFFICKING LABEL QUESTIONED Others question the timing of the raids and the labeling of Rohingya as trafficking victims. Thailand had previously referred to them as illegal economic migrants. The change suggests the Thai government may intend to use these raids to show they are fighting human trafficking in time for the U.S. governments report on trafficking due out in July, said Andy Hall, an expert on migrant issues in Thailand. Thailand has been on a Tier 2 Watch List status the second-worst rating for three consecutive years for not fully complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. A downgrade to Tier 3 the same level with North Korea - could result in non-tariff sanctions being imposed on Thailand. Its nothing new that theres been a huge number of people whove been using Thailand as a transit point from Rakhine State to Malaysia and onwards, Hall told AlertNet. For the Rohingya to be able to travel in such large numbers generally requires the assistance of Thai, Myanmar or Malaysian brokers, he said. (Additional reporting by Pairat Temphairojana) ##


New wave of Rohingya arrive in Thailand

January 25, 2011|From Kocha Olarn, CNN
Authorities in Thailand were trying Tuesday to deal with a new group of 67 members of an ethnic Muslim minority that arrived in a boat claiming that they were the victims of persecution. The new group adds to a recent wave of Rohingya who have recently arrived in southern Thailand, claiming that they have been persecuted in Myanmar. Their arrival could test Bangkok's international pledges to treat the Rohingya humanely, two years after Thailand faced international condemnation over secret policies of towing Rohingya back out to sea in unpowered boats with little food and water. The group of 67 Rohingya who arrived Sunday are the second group to come ashore in the last few days. Another group of 91 Rohingya arrived Saturday. The second group was being held at a police station in Thailand's Satun Province, authorities said. "I can be anywhere, except in Myanmar, if I went back I would be dead," said Rohingya Noori Shalom, during a phone interview from the police station. He said he came from the Myanmar town of Mondul, leaving his wife and two children behind to find a better life. He promised his family that, if things went well, he would bring them to the new home he found. Another person there was 10-year-old Muhammad Fariq, who said he paid 40,000 Kyat to board the boat. He said he drifted for 15 days onboard, hoping to get to Malaysia, a Muslim country where he could find a job. The latest group of Rohingya were in limbo Tuesday, waiting for Thai authorities to determine their fate. Police Col. Chayawut Chansomboon, Satun immigration superintendent, said both groups will probably be returned to their country.


Chayawut said sending them back to Myanmar is difficult practice because they are not recognized by Myanmar and it makes the repatriation process complicated. There are now over a thousand of Rohingya still staying at a local immigration office due to these complications, he said. "We are well aware of basic human rights and we are providing them all basic humanitarian needs, foods and shelters," he said. The issue of Rohingya erupted into controversy in 2009, when the Thai military was accused of intercepting boatloads of Rohingya, sabotaging their vessels and abandoning them at sea. Thailand eventually acknowledged such actions, after initial denials. ##

Phang Nga immigration overloaded, Rohingya relocated to centers across Southern Thailand
Phuket Gazette - Friday, January 25, 2013 12:34:37 PM Kritsada Mueanhawong
Some of the 270 Rohingya that Phang Nga officials could not accommodate were transferred to detention centers in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Kanchanaburi provinces. Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong
PHUKET: The 179 Rohingya refugees who arrived in Khura Buri District, north of Phuket, on January 23 have taken the Phang Nga Immigration facilities past breaking point, forcing authorities to relocate hundreds of Rohingya already being held at the Phang Nga detention center to immigration centers elsewhere in Southern Thailand. Yesterday, we brought 179 Rohingya from Khura Buri police station to our office. We already had 271 Rohingya here, and space for just 250, so we could not accommodate them, Phang Nga Immigration officer Neti Khunboon told the Phuket Gazette yesterday. The Phang Nga Immigration Superintendent ordered us to move 270 of the refugees to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Kanchanaburi immigration-detention centers today [January 25], Maj Neti explained. Maj Neti also confirmed to the Gazette that his team was working along with Phang Nga Provincial Social Development and Human Security Office to take care of the children who were part of the group of 179 Rohingya.

We want to move them to a special Phang Nga shelter for women and children. Maj Neti added. The children have already been examined by Public Health Officers, who determined that five should be sent to Phang Nga hospital to receive treatment for fever, blood in the urine, and possible tuberculosis infection. ##

UNHCR granted access to Rohingya refugees

Published: 16 Jan 2013 at 13.03 Online news: Asia
BANGKOK - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Wednesday it had permission from Thailand to access some 850 people, many thought to be from Myanmar's Rohingya minority, held after raids on hidden camps in Thailand's far South. Hundreds of migrants have been arrested in the past week in police sweeps on remote areas in rubber plantations in Songkhla province near the border with Malaysia, leading the UNHCR to seek to confirm whether any of them plan to seek asylum. "The Thai authorities have agreed in principle to give us access to this group," Vivian Tan, spokeswoman for the UNHCR office, told AFP. "There are likely to be Rohingya among them, but we can't confirm their identity without us first talking to them and doing a preliminary assessment. "We need to determine who these people are, where they came from and what they want," the spokeswoman said. She said no date had been agreed yet, but that the UN was pushing to do the interviews "as soon as possible". Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra recently approved temporary assistance for a group of Rohingyas discovered hiding in Songkhla province, 700 kilometres south of Bangkok, until their status is determined.

Rohingya migrants sit inside a temporary shelter at a rubber plantation near the Thai-Malaysian border in Sadao district of Songkhla province - on Jan 11, 2013. (Photo by Wichayant Boonchote)
Thousands of Muslim-minority Rohingya have fled communal unrest in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine, heading to Thailand and other countries. Clashes between Buddhists and Muslims have left at least 180 people dead in the state since June, and displaced more than 110,000 others, mostly Rohingya.

Myanmar views the roughly 800,000 Rohingya in Rakhine as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship. The UN, which has called Rohingya one of the world's most persecuted peoples, has urged Myanmar's neighbours to open their borders to people escaping the communal violence. Although tensions have eased since a fresh outbreak of killings in October, concerns have grown about the fate of asylum-seekers setting sail in overcrowded boats. Thailand has faced pressure from rights groups to do more to help Rohingya migrants who reach its territory. The country has been accused of pushing them into neighbouring countries including Malaysia, which offers them sanctuary. Human Rights Watch has said women and children are increasingly among the boatloads of Rohingya fleeing Myanmar. Last year, the Rohingya were the target of ethnic clashes in Rakhine that left more than 100 dead and 115,000 displaced.##

Malaysia Rounds Up 383 Burmese Nationals

By | January 16, 2013 |
Two boats carrying 354 men, women and children, who are supposedly from Burma, landed in Malaysia on Tuesday night, where local police rounded them up for being illegal immigrants, Malaysian newspaper The Star reports. The boats came from Bangladesh and Arakan State in Burma, and landed on Cenang Island in northwest Malaysia. One of the boats had 143 passengers comprising 94 men, 18 women and 31 girls. The other had 211, comprising 207 men and four boys, a police officer said. Another 29 Burmese nationals were nabbed by police near the Thai-Malaysian border on Tuesday. ##


Thai PM: Rohingya might join southern insurgency

By Francis Wade Jan 16, 2013 4:09PM UTC
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Sinawatra indulged in some loaded conjecturing yesterday when she warned that the 840-plus Rohingya in detention in Thailand might join the southern insurgency rather than seek asylum in a third country. The men, women and children in question were found in Songklas Sadao district over the course of several raids last week on smuggling dens run by human trafficking rackets.

Asian Correspondent Asia News

Thai Prime Minister Shinawatra. Pic: AP.


condemnation following other grisly episodes involving the Rohingya.

Their future is now the subject of a tussle between Thai authorities and the UN refugee agency, although Yingluck made clear her feelings that they are a threat to Thailand and should be deported back to Burma (a veritable lions den for the stateless Muslims). That had anyway seemed likely until the UN intervened and stalled the deportation, and Thailand now appears to be feeling the pressure of several years of international

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Sinawatra indulged in some loaded conjecturing yesterday when she warned that the 840-plus Rohingya in detention in Thailand might join the southern insurgency rather than seek asylum in a third country. The men, women and children in question were found in Songklas Sadao district over the course of several raids last week on smuggling dens run by human trafficking rackets. Their future is now the subject of a tussle between Thai authorities and the UN refugee agency, although Yingluck made clear her feelings that they are a threat to Thailand and should be deported back to Burma (a veritable lions den for the stateless Muslims). That had anyway seemed likely until the UN intervened and stalled the deportation, and Thailand now appears to be feeling the pressure of several years of international condemnation following other grisly episodes involving the Rohingya. The Prime Ministers statement, apparently unsubstantiated, is a reckless one, based mainly on the hackneyed assumption that any disenfranchised Muslim is automatically a terrorist threat. It risks directing anti-Muslim sentiment at the Rohingya, who are in Thailand in part to escape that branding. Many of these people have suffered similar treatment in Burma, where Arakanese politicians and a worrying cross-section of the Burmese population brand them terrorists and have embarked on a witch-hunt to expose Rohingya sympathisers among Arakanese.

Thai medias labeling of the group as illegal migrants, while technically true, also distorts the picture somewhat. Given the reasons why they are in Thailand to escape abject poverty, racial and religious persecution, vicious ethno-religious violence, bans on accessing state education and healthcare, and much more the line between migrant and refugee is heavily blurred. Deporting these migrants could in fact amount to refoulement (international law-speak for returning a victim of persecution to a place of danger), which is illegal. Close scrutiny of Thailands actions is now of the utmost importance, with the Thai navy having been placed on alert for signs of more boatloads of Rohingya. In 2008 the navy towed a boatload of Rohingya back out to sea and left many to dehydrate to death the subsequent media coverage sparked international condemnation that shone a spotlight on Thailands apathetic attitude towards refugees (it is not a signatory of the UN convention on refugees). This focus must continue. Among the 840 Rohingya was a 10-year-old boy: According to his story, Nu Rahasims parents and siblings all were brutally killed by authorities, said the Bangkok Post. The orphaned Nu, who showed scars he said came from beatings and slashes by Myanmar troops, then joined a group of 140 Rohingya who sought help from an affluent man in the violence-plagued [Arakan] state, in the hope of getting out of the country. The last thing he needs is for a world leader to suggest he may become a terrorist it could happen, but no more so than any other disenfranchised youth, whether they be white, black, Muslim or Christian. People arent born with extremist tendencies. The 10-year-old probably thought he was one of the lucky ones when he made it to Thailand. Now he is in detention, slandered by a prime minister, and awaits possible return to the country he risked death to flee.##

Asian Correspondent Asia News

Are the Rohingya involved in violence in Thailands Deep South?

By Bangkok Pundit Jan 29, 2013 12:00PM UTC
Rohingya migrants sit on a police van after arriving at Ranong provincial court, Thailand to hear charge of illegal entry. Pic: AP.

Over the last month Thailand has detained at least 800 Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority from Burma. The international community were concerned they would be deported, but for now the Thai government has relented and stated they will not deport the Rohingya. The government will allow the UNHCR to interview the Rohingya, Thailand will provide them with shelter for 6 months, and assured that they would be treated humanely. However, the possible role that the Rohingya may play in the insurgency in southern Thailand has been raised. The Bangkok Post on January 16, 2013: The government plans to consult with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) before deciding on the status of nearly 850 detained Rohingya migrants, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says. The government will not return or relocate the Rohingya migrants for the time being, Ms Yingluck said after Tuesdays cabinet meeting. Ms Yingluck said some of the migrants might join the southern insurgency rather than seek asylum in a third country.

The Nation on January 18, 2013: Chalerm said he had no concerns that the Muslim Rohingyas would get involved with the insurgency in the deep South. What is problematic is their [possible] future illegal entry into Thailand in the long term. This is a very
delicate matter and Thailand needs to protect its interests while not violating human rights, he said Fellow AC blogger Francis Wade blogged on Yinglucks comments. Key excerpt: Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Sinawatra indulged in some loaded conjecturing yesterday when she warned that the 840-plus Rohingya in detention in Thailand might join the southern insurgency rather than seek asylum in a third country. The men, women and children in question were found in Songklas Sadao district over the course of several raids last week on smuggling dens run by human trafficking rackets. The Prime Ministers statement, apparently unsubstantiated, is a reckless one, based mainly on the hackneyed assumption that any disenfranchised Muslim is automatically a terrorist threat. It risks directing anti-Muslim sentiment at the Rohingya, who are in Thailand in part to escape that branding. BP: Indeed for an ethnic group who have long been labelled as terrorists, in what DVB calls a disinformation campaign by the Burmese authorities, and more recently last year by Burmese nationalists, such loaded conjecture could lead to further speculation and create unease for Rohingya who make it Thailand. As it is the plight of the Rohingya receives little sympathy in Thailand so one wonders, was it really necessary to speculate? Fortunately, the PMs speculation was a footnote in most stories in the Thai media with much greater focus being given to the change in government position to allow them to stay for processing by the UN or the government was going to strictly control the entry of the Rohingya in Thailand. However, the PMs speculation may have provided an opportunity for others to be more specific on the threat of the Rohingyas involvement in the Deep South. The Nation:

Some Rohingya migrants arrested for illegal entry have confessed to being trained by insurgents to undertake attacks in the restive deep South, according to a highly-placed source in the Justice Ministrys Forensic Science

The source said the men had entered Thailand through Mae Sot in northern Tak province and later moved to Sungai Kolok in Narathiwat in the far south. Their case was discovered in 2009.

These two men confessed that they were trained by the RKK and later were sent back to carry out attacks in the southern border provinces. This is very worrying, the source said.
In 2009, a number of Rohingya carrying Malaysian ID cards were arrested after having carried out attacks in the southern border provinces, according to the source. But a case like this was not common, the source said.

Authorities also found that some illegal immigrants had smuggled explosive substances from India, she said.
The source said it was possible the illegal immigrants got help from smuggling rings to transport them from border areas to other parts of the country. Many Rohingya are smuggled to the coastal provinces of Satun and Ranong, and some of them are sent to Malaysia.

A source at the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) yesterday denied having such information about Rohingya in Thailand.
BP: ASTV Manager and other Thai media outlets have on-the-record quotes from Dr. Pornthip, the head of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, stating the same thing. This is the first time BP has seen any mention of confessions although talk of explosives and the Rohingya is not new. Back in 2009 when the Rohingya were pushed back to sea, Dr. Pornthip fronted the media and linked the Rohingya to the insurgency in the Deep South, providing cover for the military to detain them as a threat to national security. At the time, she told Al Jazeera: But according to a leading Thai forensics expert, explosives residue was found on one of the Rohingya boats that landed on Thailands Andaman coast in December. Dr Porntip Rojanasunan, a forensic pathologist working for the ministry of justice, was asked by the Thai military to examine the contents of some of the boats, specifically to examine whether the refugees may be linked to fighters in the south, and if they held any objects that may be a security threat.

There were substances and chemicals found that can be used in explosives there was actually quite a significant level, she told Al Jazeera. Asked whether the traces could be directly linked to the separatist movement in the south, she said: I can only give the authorities what my results of the tests were. BP: As blogged in 2010: No details are provided on what techonology was used by Pornthip to detect explosive residue, but given she is one of the ardent supporters of the GT200 device* and was using the GT200 device just a few months before to confirm whether there was explosive residue at another event, shouldnt we wonder whether the GT200 device was used here? Aside from the GT200 device was there are any other confirmation of explosive residue? BP: The latest statement by Dr. Pornthip is more than just talk of explosive residue. There is talk of actual explosives and confessions. Four years have passed now and while prosecutions often take a long time so have those who confessed been prosecuted? Is there any other outside source that can corroborate what Dr. Pornthip

is saying? So far havent seen one. Aside from the allegations above, BP does not recall any other evidence linking the Rohingya with the insurgency in Thailands Deep South. BP sees three ways outsiders could be involved in the violence in Thailands Deep South into 3 categories: 1. Trainers; 2: Operators/implementers; and 3. Support personnel. No doubt there can be other possible categories.

1. Trainers
Over 10 years ago, Thai passports were reportedly been found at Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim separatist group in the Philippines, training camps. There are also reports of logistical support and training being provided by those in Indonesia and elsewhere from many years ago. Reports of training and support in the past make sense though. This was before the resurgence 0f violence in 2004 or not long after when the capability of many insurgents in the Deep South was lacking. In the years since then, we have had bigger and more sophisticated bombs and the insurgents certainly possess a level of expertise in bomb-making which didnt exist 10 years ago. With this expertise means, there is less need for outsiders unless they are providing more specific training. What is the likelihood of Rohingya arriving by boat providing such training? Common sense would suggest very unlikely. Why you ask? If they just wanted to enter Thailand, why risk doing so by boat? Many boats have been lost at sea, the trip is unsafe etc. If you are some expert, you wouldnt risk coming by boat. In fact, in the case that Pornthip is referring to from 2009, it involved entry from the North of Thailand via a land border crossing and not by Rohingya coming by boat. There seems a great difference, in BPs opinion, of those who have arriving by boat vs someone arriving by land. To conflate the two in a risk assessment, would be unwise.

2. Implementers/Operators
By this, BP means those who will carry out attacks. How are the Rohingya going to integrate themselves with cells that operate in the Deep South? You have language problems, you have the fact that they look different and would no doubt come under suspicion from the authorities on their appearance, you have the lack of ties to others in the village, and general lack of trust of newcomers.

3. Support personnel
Now, for Rohingya who end up in the 3 southern border provinces, no doubt they would be looking to earn money to survive. Aside from the problems of integrating themselves and becoming known, it would make sense that any tasks given to outsiders would likely be menial tasks. Again though, what is the likelihood of being able to screen such people in advance? people once they arrived and one wonders what kind of screening upon arrival could help. For 2 and 3, there may be isolated cases now or in the future of Rohingyas ending up in the insurgency, but again common sense would suggest that there will be few outsiders particularly the Rohingya who dont have the same ethnic background as those in the Deep South and speak a different language. More importantly, those who end up involved would likely only do so after living in Thailand for many years. For such people, it would be difficult to screen upon arrival (they are unlikely to have phone numbers of cell leaders in their pockets as it is only once they arrive could they become acquainted with such leaders).

Overall, there may be some isolated cases. Some people from any ethnic group could be hired to smuggle weapons or explosives if the price is right. There is still no evidence that any Rohingya arriving by boat have become involved in the insurgency. Perhaps, the authorities should focus attention on actual, tangible threats. btw, Saksith has a somewhat related post with some background.##

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Rohingya in Thailand - Safe for now

A group of Rohingya women and children at Khao Lak shelter in southern Thailand Steve Sandford/IRIN
KHAO LAK, 29 January 2013 (IRIN) - The future of more than 1,500 recent Rohingya boat arrivals in Thailand is unclear, despite a government reprieve allowing them to stay for another six months. "Their long-term fate remains uncertain, Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, an advocacy group for the Rohingya, told IRIN. In the short-term, they should not be held in overcrowded IDCs [immigration detention centres] and police cells. Alternatives to detention have to be found such as open facilities under regulated conditions where they could at least move around. The mainly Muslim Rohingya have long faced persecution in Myanmar, where they are de jure stateless under Burmese law; in Bangladesh most Rohingya refugees are unwelcome and face discrimination. On 25 January, Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul announced that 1,500 Rohingya men, women and children would be allowed to stay in the country for another six months, during which time the authorities would work to find a more viable solution, including the possibility of third country resettlement.

According to the authorities, 1,486 Rohingyas arrived in January and are now in detention, including 264 women and children. More Rohingyas (108) were rescued from a sinking boat at the Mu Ko Surin Marine National Park in Phangnaga Province on 28 January, and another 205 were intercepted south of the resort island of Phuket on 29 January, say activists. Emergency medical staff have been on stand-by aiding the new arrivals in Khao Lak, Phangnaga Province, southern Thailand. Many of the survivors are suffering from severe malnutrition after drinking salty sea water which causes anaemia, scabies and stomach parasites, said Wanida Nacharung of the Phangnaga shelter in Takua Pa District, where 82 children and 24 women are now staying. In recent years, boatloads of mostly male Rohingyas from Bangladesh and Myanmar have migrated by boat down the Andaman coast in the hope of reaching predominately Muslim Malaysia and finding work. But this year there has been an increasing number of women and children accompanying the men. According to the UN, some 115,000 people are displaced in Myanmars Rakhine State following inter-communal violence in June and October 2012, in which thousands of homes and buildings were burned or destroyed and dozens of people killed. About 85 percent of the displaced are in and around Sittwe. Critics say that sending the Rohingya back to Myanmar - as has been Thai policy in the past - would be a mistake, and they call on the authorities to improve conditions inside the detention centres. We would like to discuss about non-refoulement and the long-term treatment of the Rohingya in Thailand's detention centres because in the past, we detained them for so long in confined quarters some of them died. We must learn from the past, said Kessarin Tiawsakul, an investigating officer from National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. Tiawsakul realizes that some of the arrivals may actually be Bangladeshi labour migrants. He said a proper identification process needs be implemented to provide a more accurate profile of each case.

More to come?

Large numbers of boats have already sailed and are expected to continue to sail from the Bangladesh and Myanmar border area, Sittwe and other locations in Rakhine State, according to Lewa. Recently arrived Areecha, 40, from Sittwe, said she had no option but to board a boat after the Burmese military shot her two sons and their house was torched in June. There was no water on the boat and we were desperate. Some people passed out. Others vomited. I want to die here. I don't want to go back, she said. More than 900 Rohingya men are now being detained in 10 police stations and two IDCs in Songkhla Province, southern Thailand. The immediate priority is to make sure their humanitarian needs are addressed. The local authorities and community in Songkhla have been very generous with their assistance, but there need to be more sustainable ways to accommodate these groups, said Vivian Tan, a spokeswoman for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). There are likely to be different profiles within these groups, including people who may need international protection, vulnerable individuals like unaccompanied children, and possibly people seeking economic opportunities elsewhere. Different groups will need different solutions, she said. The Rohingya should have a right to apply for asylum and have the right to go through a full refugee status

determination process overseen by the UNHCR with the Thai authorities, said Phil Robertson, deputy director for Human Rights Watch in Asia. If they are found to be refugees they should be provided with all entailed in terms of protection, not just temporarily but over the long term if needed. ss/ds/cb ##


UN, 20 nations join Thailand to help Rohingya

The Nation January 17, 2013
Envoys of more than 20 countries yesterday joined a teleconference that was held to address the grievances of and get help for more than 850 Rohingya people. These illegal migrants were arrested in Thailand's South earlier this month.

Envoys hold conference to organise support; UNHCR granted permission to visit refugees
At the teleconference were representatives of various countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Australia, the United States, New Zealand as well as the European Union. In a related development, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) disclosed it had already received the Thai authorities' permission to access these Rohingya refugees. The conference focused on immediate assistance and the legal procedures involved. "The Thai authorities have agreed in principle to give us access," said Golam Abbas, UNHCR's Representative ad interim in Thailand. "We would like this to happen as soon as possible, so that we can jointly look at their immediate humanitarian and protection needs."

"If there are people seeking asylum among the group, they should have access to a mechanism to assess their material and protection needs. This could be through Thailand's existing Provincial Admissions Board or another agreed arrangement. We are ready to provide our support and expertise as needed," he said. Some 115,000 Rohingya people remain internally displaced within Myanmar's Rakhine state following intercommunal violence in June and October last year. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in Myanmar. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Tuesday her government would provide humanitarian care for the refugees and instructed the Foreign Ministry to work with the UN on the issue. The UN said it welcomed public assurances from Yingluck that the group would receive temporary assistance in Thailand in respect of the principle of non-refoulement. This principle states that under international customary law, no one should be sent back to a place where his or her life and freedom could be endangered. UNHCR has sought access to this group, and cannot confirm their number or identity without first talking to them. Thailand's Chularatchamontri, the country's Muslim spiritual leader, visited the arrested Rohingya in Songkhla yesterday. With tears in his eyes, he urged authorities to contact a third country where the migrants could get jobs and humanitarian assistance. "Please don't send them back to Myanmar," he said. The Burmese Rohingya Association Thailand, at the same time, called on the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) to prevent any deportation of the Rohingya. "We have never agreed with deportation. Sending the Rohingya back is like sending them to hell," NHRC commissioner Niran Pitakwatchara said. He also expressed concern that the Rohingya refugees might fall victims to human traffickers. "We will consult with relevant authorities in a bid to prevent violation of the Rohingya people's rights," Niran said. Speaking separately, Mamadjorkhid from Myanmar said he could not feel any human dignity in his homeland. "Soldiers always harassed us. They were always taking away whatever we had in hands or farms," the 24-old-man said. He has now settled down in Thailand's Ranong. Nobihuzon, 40, said he felt he had no future while living in Rakhine. "Many neighbours felt the same way. So, we pooled the money to buy a fishing trawler and started our boat trip," he said. It took him more than 20 days to reach Thailand, where he had now lived for more than 22 years. "I can live without fear now. I have already got myself registered as an alien worker," Nobihuzon said. ##

Foreign Ministry to tackle problems of Rohingya migrants

Published on January 16, 2013 by TFP
BANGKOK, 16 January 2013 (NNT): The Foreign Ministry has held a discussion with related agencies on the solutions to the problem of Rohingya migrants in the country. Permanent Secretary for Foreign Sihasak Phuangketkeow revealed on Tuesday that the National Security Council (NSC) has already called for a meeting with the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), the Social

Development and Human Security Ministry, the Immigration Bureau and the Foreign Ministry to discuss the issues of illegal Rohingya immigrants. The meeting was held after officials have recently found a secret camp in the South of Thailand, where 857 Rohingya Muslims have been hidden by smugglers. While the government is providing shelters, food and medical services to these migrants, the authorities are to conduct a verification process to determine if anyone has been involved in any human-trafficking operation. In any case, all detained Rohingya Muslims have been charged with unlawful entry, according to Mr. Sihasak. The Permanent Secretary for Foreign` went on to say that a number of international organizations have expressed worries and readiness to lend help to the Muslim immigrants. However, he said that the governments working committee in charge of the issue is still to discuss ways to work with all organizations, in order to make sure that any assistance extended will be transparent and in accordance with the code of conduct on international humanitarian and the principle of Thailands sovereignty. Mr. Sihasak added that, with help from the Myanmar government, any migrants proven to be Myanmar nationals will be automatically deported. ( Nopparat Chaichalearmmongkol Nopparat Chaichalearmmongkol) ##

Laughter masks migrant sorrow

The plea of a little girl to find a home reflects the plight of many Rohingya Published: 18 Jan 2013 at 00.00 - Newspaper section: News
The five-member family of Majiata, a 12-year-old Rohingya girl, arrived by boat in Thailand in the hope they could travel on to meet their father in Malaysia.

Rohingya children take part in activities intended to bring a smile to their faces while being detained at a Social Development and Welfare Department shelter in Muang district of Songkhla. The activities were organised by a group of students from Thaksin University. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD
Majiata dreamed of seeing her father for the first time in five years. All they had to do was cross the border, but they never made it. Majiata is among 130 Rohingya children and 28 Rohingya women who left Rakhine, Myanmar, and are now being held at a Ministry of Social Development and Human Security shelter in Hat Yai district.

She and her family were among 843 Rohingya migrants picked up in three raids in the South last week. Majiata and her other family members are among 105 immigrants being held in Songkhla province. The rest are in nearby provinces. "Dad is already in Malaysia. He phoned home and told us to come to him. My mother spent our family savings and borrowed cash from relatives to pay for the trip," Majiata said through a translator. "It cost about 100,000 kyats [3,486 baht] each for the boat trip to Thailand and the trip that would have taken us into Malaysia," she said. She knows only that her father is in Kuala Lumpur but has no idea what he does for a living. Joining her on the trip was her mother, 14-year-old brother and two sisters, aged seven and four. Majiata said they had to leave Rakhine because Buddhists and Myanmar soldiers took their land and burnt their house. The family had to stay with relatives in another village while raising cash to leave the country she said. Her mother, Soida, said life in Rakhine was very difficult. She said she has begged Thai authorities to send them to Malaysia for their family reunion and said they would be jailed for life or even killed if they were repatriated. The atmosphere at their shelter is lively and many of the migrants are confident their plight will end with a favourable outcome. Meanwhile, the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre is providing them with the necessities they need. Members of an Islamic club at Thaksin University in Songkhla also sing to entertain them. They do not know each other's language but can communicate with music and laughter. Aziz Pitakkumpol, Thailand's Muslim spiritual leader, has asked the government not to repatriate the Rohingya but to give them asylum here or send them to a third country. "If they must stay here longer, I propose they stay at the central mosque in Songkhla which has a big compound," Mr Aziz said. "The mosque can provide them with food pending the outcome." Mr Aziz denied letting them stay would encourage more Rohingya to flee to Thailand. He said Thailand was only a transit point before Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. Some Rohingya did not know that many Muslims live in Thailand, until the Muslims turned up to give them food, he said.##

NSC floats plan of Rohingya shelters

By Wassana Nanuam & King-Oua Laohong

Published: 29/01/2013 at 12:00 AM

Security agencies will ask the government to build detention centres for Rohingya in Songkhla and Rayong.
Officials have yet to settle on the locations but say each batch of arriving migrants will not stay at the centres longer than six months. Thailand will not accept the Rohingya as long-term refugees as this could lead to far greater numbers arriving, the National Security Council (NSC) said yesterday. Earlier yesterday, 108 Rohingya migrants were rescued from a sunken boat at Mu Ko Surin Marine National Park in Phangnga. The Rohingya were spotted floating about 1km off Surin Tai island in Khura Buri district about 2pm, Wattanasak Thongrakthong, deputy chief of Mu Ko Surin National Park, said. The migrants comprised 69 men, 26 women and 13 children, including a one-month old baby, he said. They said their boat broke down and they had to swim to shore, the park official said. All were living in a temporary shelter on the island.

They were the second batch of Rohingya migrants found in Khura Buri district in less than a week. On Friday, marine police inspecting a boat off Ra island found 96 Rohingya migrants crammed into the vessel. The NSC and other security agencies said yesterday they would ask the government to build three detention centres in Songkhla and Ranong to shelter the Rohingya, NSC secretary-general Lt Gen Paradon Pattanathaboot said. They will be held at the detention centres for six months after their arrival, he said, and then will be sent back to Myanmar or other countries if anyone will take them. Lt Gen Paradon met representatives of the armed forces and other security agencies on Friday to discuss the Rohingya problem. The six-month deadline has been set to prevent the migrants from becoming a long-term burden, he said. News reports that Rohingya migrants are receiving aid after being rescued from forests in Songkhla have prompted others still in hiding to contact officials to seek help. If Thailand offers to shelter Rohingya fleeing Rakhine state in Myanmar for longer than six months, it will have to deal with a far greater influx, Lt Gen Paradon said. "Now we must contact the countries that want us to help the Rohingya and ask them if they are ready to accept the people," he said. "The ambassadors of many nations met me and asked Thailand to help. I told them we are ready to help them but these countries must also accept Rohingya themselves." The Rohingya do not want to live in Thailand but want to work in a Muslim country. The government will continue to define them as illegal immigrants, the NSC chief said. "We consider them only as illegal immigrants and do not upgrade their cases to human trafficking status. Otherwise, other countries will step in and it will be difficult to solve the problem and get them out," he said. An army source said Rohingya migrants want to go to Malaysia but Thailand will also ask the US, Australia and European countries to accept them. Thailand believes it could take up to three years to solve the problem. More than 1,000 Rohingya migrants are being held in Songkhla and Ranong. The cost of caring for them since the first arrivals were rounded up early this month has reached 11 million baht, the source said. The source said that while fair humanitarian care must be provided, the Rohingya must not allowed to become too comfortable and get entrenched in Thailand. Meanwhile, 4th Army chief Lt Gen Udomchai Thamsarorat has reportedly transferred a lieutenant colonel and a lieutenant from the southern branch of the Internal Security Operations Command following a complaint they were involved in trafficking Rohingya in the South. UN Refugee Agency representative M Golam Abbas thanked the government and locals for taking care of the Rohingya migrants. ##

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sri Lanka rescues 138 stranded people on sinking boat: Navy

Sri Lanka's navy has rescued 138 Bangladeshis and Burmese nationals from a sinking fishing vessel off the island's east coast.
One passenger was found dead while many of the 138 plucked from the boat were dehydrated, said navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya, adding that the vessel had been adrift for 10 days before it sank today.

From: AFP - February 03, 2013 5:25PM


Sri Lankan sailors help a rescued boy to disembark from a navy vessel after he was rescued from a sinking ship. Picture: AFP Source: AFP "We sent three ships for the rescue at a location 50 miles (80 kilometres) off the eastern coast of Akkaraipattu," Mr Warnakulasuriya said. "Some have been admitted to a local hospital." Police said 14 were Burmese nationals while the others were Bangladeshis. Fifteen of the survivors, including two women and two children, were hospitalised with acute dehydration, police said in a statement.

"We have difficulty in communicating with the survivors so we have asked the two embassies to send us translators," police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said. He said statements of survivors would be recorded and they would be moved to a temporary shelter in Colombo under judicial supervision. In the meantime, the authorities at Oluvil fishing harbour were giving them shelter.

Sri Lankan sailors assist rescued survivors on a Sri Lanka Navy vessel at Oluvil fisheries harbour in eastern Sri Lanka. Picture: AFP

"We are certain that they were not trying to enter Sri Lanka, but their boat developed trouble in mid-sea and they drifted close to our shores," Mr. Jayakody said. The early-morning rescue came amid stepped up naval patrols to deter Sri Lankan fishing boats from taking would-be illegal immigrants to Australia. Authorities arrested more than 1200 people trying to leave the island illegally last year. Many of those who make the perilous journey pay up to $3000 for a place on trawlers run by people-smugglers. Mr. Warnakulasuriya said the passengers rescued today identified themselves as Bangladeshi and Burmese nationals but it was not yet known where they came from or were headed. Reports from local fishermen alerted fishing authorities who in turn asked for help from the navy which mounted a 20-hour search and rescue operation, officials said. They said it was unclear if those identified as Burmese nationals were Rohingya - members of a stateless Muslim minority described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted groups - who had fled Burma. An explosion of tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Burma's western state of Rakhine since June 2012 has triggered an seaborne exodus of Rohingya. Thailand's navy blocked more than 200 Rohingya boat people from entering the kingdom late last month as part of a new policy, under which they will be given food and water but barred from landing if their boat is seaworthy.##

Rohingya Find Welcome in Thailands Conflict-hit Deep South

By JOE JACKSON / THE IRRAWADDY| January 26, 2013 |
PATTANI, Thailand The three conflict-ridden provinces of Thailands Deep South are not a popular destination for many visitors. A renewed and intensifying insurgency, which has killed more than 5,300 people since 2004, provides a daily diet of military check-points, assassinations and bombings. But for Sakir Husan, 18, and other ethnic Rohingya fleeing sectarian violence in Burmas Arakan State, the region is proving a welcome escape from the nightmares of their lives back home. Husan is part of a 22-strong group18 men and four womencurrently being housed in the capital of Pattani Province since Jan. 16. They are among hundreds of Rohingya who have landed on the shores of southern Thailand this month and then been dispersed across the country by the authorities. But in contrast to the frosty reception Rohingya have often received from the Thai state, which has been criticized by human rights groups for previously returning them to sea or overland to Burma, the group in Pattani has received the warmest of welcomes from the local predominantly Malay-Muslimpopulation. I am happy to be hereand that everybody has been so kind, a visibly drained Husan tells The Irrawaddy through a translator, surrounded by local well-wishers. The 18-year-old, wearing a small prayer cap and longyi, says he felt he had little choice but to leave his homeand parentsbehind in the Arakan State capital Sittwe. Before we left our homeland, we felt like we would be killed. So we decided to take our chances at sea, and maybe we can survive, he explains. Husan says the group spent 20 days at sea in a boat packed with 143 people, surviving by drinking rain and seawater and never giving up hope. Some people were in the depths of the boat, others had no energy, but we eventually made it, he adds. He was separated from his brother on arrival in Thailand, and has not heard from him since. Although he has a cousin in


the group in Pattani, the trauma of being apart from his family is taking its toll: Even though Im here, my heart misses my parentsthey are still in Burma, they could not leave.

Rohingya refugee Sakir Husan, center in yellow prayer cap, sits surrounded by well-wishers at a house in the capital of southern Thailands Pattani Province. (Photo: Joe Jackson / The Irrawaddy)

In an apparent show of Muslim solidarity, scores of locals have been flocking daily to the government building in Pattani where they are being housed to meet the Rohingyas and donate everyday essentials. Among the items piling up at the center are sacks of rice, noodles, biscuits, canned food, water, eggs, toiletries and mats to sleep on. I want to donatewe are all brothers so we have to help, says Medina Adulyarat, 22, a Pattani local who came to donate items, comfort the refugees and talk to them through translators. Although both the Rohingya in Burma and elements of the Malay-Muslim population in Thailands Deep South are involved in varying degrees of conflict with their respective neighboring Buddhist communities, locals in Pattani deny this is the basis for their sympathy and support. The situations are very different, says Shakira Haji Marwan, a local education worker donating detergent, soap and toothbrushes. The Burmese government doesnt even recognize them as citizens, while here Malay-Muslims are at least recognized as part of the Thai nation state. For Marwan, the compassion being shown is simply human. We pity them because from what we know they were treated badly in Burmanot as human beings but as animals. So as a Muslim, when I know Rohingyas are here, I try to help [with] what I can. Most Muslim people here, when they heard what had been happening to them in Burma, they prayed to God for their protection. The group in

Pattani are being temporarily housed in an office of the Thai governments Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. The space is so small some of the men are sleeping outdoors under tarpaulins. It is unclear how long they will be there. The government is still deciding how to deal with the latest arrivals of Rohingyanumbering as many as 4,000 in the last three months. State agencies were meeting on Jan. 25 ahead of forthcoming discussions with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF). NGOs have been pushing for unfettered access to the Rohingya, with some success. Staff from the UNHCR and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been visiting them across the country, including in the Deep South, to check on living conditions, help establish contact with their relatives back in Arakan State and provide basic basic necessities. Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, wants the government to formulate a consistent and more humane policy towards the Rohingya. He tells The Irrawaddy that Thai people across the country have shown remarkable and admirable support for the migrantsand that the authorities should follow their example. In the past the Rohingya have been classified as a security threat. Recent weeks shows nothing could be further from the truththese people come with nothing. So the Thai government should do the right thing, he says. The Thai Supreme Commander, Gen Tanasak Patimaprogorn, has called on the international community to provide more assistance for the refugees. But Robertson says stemming the flood of Rohingya to the shores of southern Thailand requires like-minded Southeast Asian nations to put more pressure on the Burmese government to grant them full citizenship and end their stateless plight. It just has to stop: thats what the message needs to be, he says.
Rohingya migrants are being held at Thung Lung police station in Songkhlas Hat Yai district. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Meanwhile, the recent mass arrivals of Rohingya in Thailand have focused the spotlight on the smuggling of refugees from Burma and the possible role of the Thai Army in the process. The countrys Anti-Human Trafficking Center, part of the Department of Special Investigations, said this week an investigation into the wave of Rohingya migrants arriving in southern Thailand found they were not victims of organized mass human trafficking. But The Bangkok Post reports that police are probing two military officers attached to the powerful Internal Security Operations Command who are suspected of involvement in the smuggling of Rohingya. The pair, holding the rank of sublieutenant and major, are being investigated by an Army panel, according to the newspaper. Rohingya migrant Sakir Husan says he paid nobody to board the boat fleeing Arakan and was not aware of Army involvement in his journey. He told The Irrawaddy he has only one request of the Thai authorities: I just dont want to go back to Burma. ##


Phuket Gazette - Saturday, January 26, 2013 4:31:21 PM

Phuket Islamic Council calls for desperately needed essentials for Rohingya refugees
PHUKET: The Phuket Islamic Council is collecting donations at their office in Koh Kaew for the hundreds of Rohingya refugees being held in detention centers across Southern Thailand. The Islamic Council is asking for blankets, dried food and toiletries. Kitti Islam, a member of the Phuket Islamic Council, told the Phuket Gazette yesterday that the council has already received a lot of donations of food and clothes, but more are needed.

Irfarn Jamdukor, Phuket, Thailand

The Phuket Islamic Council at the Muslim Wittaya Phuket School on Thepkrasattri Road is collecting donations of blankets, dried food and toiletries for Rohingya refugees. Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong
Many refugees dont have blankets to cover them when they sleep, or clothes or things necessary for daily life, he told the Gazette. We would like to ask the people of Phuket to make donations to the Rohingya. Donations already received will be taken to the refugee shelter in Khura Buri, Phang Nga today. The ongoing collection point for donations is the Phuket Islamic Council office in the Muslim Wittaya Phuket School on Thepkrasattri Road, Koh Kaew (map here). For more information, please contact the Phuket Islamic Council at 076-377546 or call Mr Kitti directly at 087-888 7572. ##

Phuket Rotary Group Aids Rohingya Women and Children

By Media Release , Sunday, January 27, 2013
PHUKET: The Rotary Club of Patong Beach Board of Directors on January 22 passed a motion to give non-cash assistance for food or whatever else might be needed, to the reported 46 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, staying at ''a family Refuge Shelter'' in Khukkhak in Khao Lak. President Larry Amsden and Service Projects co-Chairperson Brad Kenny headed north to investigate. While traveling, we became aware of another group of Rohingya refugees reported to be at the Nural Kormars Mosque in the Hin Lad-Kuraburi area.

Since the Rotary Club of Patong Beach has a lot of experience and friends in that due to our Tsunami project, we decided to check that Rohingya situation out. Sure enough, there were 112 Rohingya refugees at the Mosque and a lot of locals helping them out. We learnt that the local Thai health officials had checked out all of the Rohingya and found only one boy that needed medical assistance and took him to the medical center. Others were given vaccinations or minor medical assistance as needed. Food and water was available, from the local Muslim community and also from the Thai Government. The Rohingya were kept at the Mosque which was nothing like a detention center and we assumed they were told to stay in the Mosque. We decided to get contact information and obtained the Puyai Baan's name and phone number, Khun Lee Tel. 081 0809770, and to leave our info if any assistance might be needed in the future. One of the Rohingya in Kuraburi could speak very good English, his name is Kewrimullas and he clearly stated they all wanted to go on to Malaysia and were being treated well in Thailand, and none of them wanted to go back to Burma under any circumstance. He stated they had arrived by boat on January 22. We decided for the time being these Rohingya refugees did not need urgent help and we shall keep in contact with the Puyai Baan Khun Lee. We then went on to Khao Lak and found in Khukkhak the Phang Nga Home for Family and Children where there were 49 Rohingya Women and Children. The government officials were a little less informative but did say they had plenty of donated rice, cooking oils, and longer term storable foods but needed fresh fruits and vegetables. So we used funds from the Rotary Club of Patong Beach and bought perishable fruits and vegetables, some yogurt, and also dried fish (all requested by the government officials) and delivered it. They were very adamant that they would not accept any cash donations only food or other products. They also did not want any photographs taken inside the compound and then after we delivered the donations they allowed a few photos of the delivery. We feel there will be a need for additional food since the fresh food we delivered will only be enough for a couple of days, so we left another 4000 baht with a friend of our Rotary Club to spend on more fruits and vegetables in a few days' time. We could not get any information on how long these Rohingya will stay there but they did look quite comfortable. The government staff did have a language barrier since none of these Rohingya could speak Thai or even English. ##


Rohingya migrants

Narathiwat governor orders trafficking probe

Supitcha Rattana, Piyanuch Thamnukasetchai The Nation January 25, 2013 1:00 am
Narathitwat Governor Apinan Seutananuwong has ordered a probe into reports that more than 700 Rohingya have been smuggled into the southern province after crossing the border from Myanmar. "I don't know how the reports have come out. But to clear the air, I have told relevant officials to investigate," he said yesterday. Apinan said he had not heard that hundreds of illegal Rohingya migrants were in his province until media featured the reports.

Seeks to 'clear air' over reports hundreds smuggled into province for work
"We will probe deeply into the matter," he said. If the reports are confirmed, the number of Rohingya found illegally entering Thailand this month could soar past 2,000. As of Wednesday, official statistics showed at least 1,381 Rohingya were being detained in various spots by officials for illegal entry. All of them were believed to have just arrived in Thailand. Described by the UN as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, the Muslim Rohingya have been denied citizenship and face ongoing persecution in their native Myanmar. Several of the latest arrivals to Thailand have reported suffering severe discrimination and brutality in their homeland.

The Fourth Army Area has launched a probe into an allegation that the Rohingya are being trafficked into Thailand with the help of Thai soldiers. The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) had so far found no evidence of trafficking, DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said yesterday. "At this point, we can't conclude that these cases are about human trafficking," Tarit said. He said available information to date had shown that the Rohingya had illegally entered Thailand in search of work. "There's no sign they were duped or physically mistreated," he said. Tarit said the DSI would take over cases related to the Rohingya if further evidence suggested that they were victims of human trafficking. He assigned DSI deputy chief Yanaphon Youngyuen to attend a meeting with the Foreign Affairs Ministry about the Rohingya today. In a related development, a Songkhla man surrendered himself to police yesterday to face charges of sheltering and detaining illegal migrants. Saroj Kaewmaneechote had been sought by police after they found a group of Rohingya at his home in Songkhla's border district of Sadao earlier this month. Montae sae Lor, a 58-year-old Thai, and Dorlohmae, a 55-year-old Myanmarese, were arrested and charged with supervising the Rohingya for Saroj. "We have found that agents for illegal migrant workers have had Malaysian accomplices too," said Songkhla's deputy police chief Colonel Krissakorn Pleethanyawong. Also yesterday, officials from organisations including the Sheikhul Islam Office, the Songkhla Islamic Committee and the International Committee of the Red Cross yesterday met and agreed to set up a co-ordination committee to facilitate the Rohingyas.

Asia & Pacific

2 Thai army officers suspended during probe of human trafficking of Rohingya refugees
By Associated Press, Jan 22, 2013 01:57 PM EST - AP Published: January 22
BANGKOK A colonel and another high-ranking Thai army officer have been temporarily removed from their posts while they are investigated for suspected involvement in trafficking refugees from Myanmars Rohingya ethnic minority to a third country, the senior commander for southern Thailand said Tuesday. More than 800 beleaguered Rohingya were found in raids in Thailands southern border province of Songkhla this month after they fled sectarian violence in western Myanmar that has killed hundreds of people and displaced some 100,000 more since June. Thai police arrested eight trafficking suspects after one of the raids and are searching for three others, including an influential local politician. Thai media reported over the weekend that at least two senior military officers were involved in the trafficking network. Southern region army commander Lt. Gen. Udomchai Thammasarorat told reporters Tuesday that he has set up a committee to probe the claims and that the two officers have been suspended pending the investigation. He said the probe will also determine whether other soldiers are involved in the network.


Rohingya refugees sit in a boat as they are intercepted by Thai authorities off the sea in Phuket, southern Thailand earlier this month. Pic: AP.

Earlier, Maj. Gen. Dittaporn Sasasmit, spokesman for Thailands Internal Security Operations Command, vowed that, If any army or government officials are found to be involved in human trafficking, they will be prosecuted. The quick reaction to the charges is unusual, as Thai army officers are rarely subject to prosecution for alleged abuses, and reflects the seriousness of the trafficking allegations. Thailand attracts many refugees from three of its neighboring countries that have much weaker economies, some seeking to stay in Thailand and others heading to third nations. Thai authorities say the refugees were believed to be heading for Malaysia. They have been charged with illegal entry and their fate is unclear. Human rights groups have called on the Thai government not to repatriate them to Myanmar, where they face wide discrimination. The probe followed a demand by the armys commander-in-chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who said Monday that he opposes setting up a permanent refugee camp for the Rohingya in Thailand. Thailand was widely criticized in 2009 when its navy intercepted boats filled with Rohingya and sent them back to the sea. Hundreds are believed to have died when the boats later sank. The United Nations estimates the Rohingya population in Myanmar at 800,000, but the Myanmar government does not recognize them as one of the countrys 135 ethnic groups. Most are denied citizenship and have no passports, though many of their families have lived in the country for generations. The Muslim Rohingya speak a Bengali dialect and resemble Bangladeshis, with darker skin than most people in Myanmar, which is mostly Buddhist. They are widely regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and are heavily discriminated against, but Bangladesh also refuses to accept them as citizens.##



Islamic group proposes shelter

Published: 18 Jan 2013 at 00.00 Newspaper section: News
More than 800 Rohingya migrants detained in Thailand should be given shelter and sent to a third country rather than being returned to Myanmar, an Islamic group said yesterday. Islamic spiritual leader Chularatchamontri Aziz Pitakkumpon cries while speaking to police about the Rohingya migrants in Hat Yai district of Songkhla province yesterday. The Central Islamic Council of Thailand said it would propose the central mosque of Songkhla province be used as a main shelter for Muslim migrants who have not been charged with any criminal offences. Police detention centres have become overcrowded due to the large number of Rohingya migrants being detained, the council said. Several hundred Rohingya have been detained in Songkhla, Narathiwat, Trang, Pattani and Phangnga during the past couple of weeks after they attempted to pass through Thailand into Malaysia. Fifty-two more were detained yesterday by marine police at a deserted house in Ban Tam Ma Lang Nua village of Muang district in Satun, a province bordering Songkhla. Two of the migrants detained were women and one was a child. The latest detention brings the total number of Rohingya held to 949 as of yesterday. Two Rohingya migrants were earlier found in the forest on the Songkhla and Satun border. Local administration authorities, meanwhile, are searching for more migrants believed to have gone into hiding after the previous crackdowns. The Central Islamic Council also encouraged Muslim nations, international organisations and the United Nations agencies on human rights to discuss with a third-party country the possibility of granting asylum to the Rohingya migrants. The council also called on these organisations to pressure the Myanmar government to recognise the citizenship of other Rohingya people who remain in the country. Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the ministry expected to come up with a conclusion on the Rohingya migrant issue this week. It would then discuss with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees the best course of action. He said the government would provide assistance to the migrants on a humanitarian basis and would not extradite them until the process of verifying their nationality is completed. ##


Islamic community seeks government leniency for Rohingya migrants

SONGKHLA, Jan 18 Muslim groups in Thailand have called on the government to temporarily suspend the deportation of Rohingya migrants who illegally entered the kingdom in the South last week and are seeking international cooperation in resettling the ethnic people in a third country. At the central mosque in Songkhla province, representatives of the Central Islamic Committee of Thailand, the Sheikhul Islam Office and Islamic committees in five southern provinces said they were willing to provide temporary shelter to the Rohingya migrants without criminal charges until suitable settlements were arranged for them.

Monday, 21 January 2013 By MCOT

They offered the central mosque in Songkhla as the Rohingya migrants temporary home and asked for peoples donations and food. Tawee Sodsong, secretary general of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, and Songkhla Governor Krisda Bunrat visited Rohingya children and women at the Home for Children and Families in Songkhla yesterday. Thai health officials were also available to give them health checks. Pol Col Tawee said they were not the first groups of Rohinya migrants who illegally entered Thailand, and the Foreign Ministry and National Security Council would have to find long-term solutions and assistance to the Muslim ethnic people fleeing from Myanmar. In neighbouring Narathiwat province, Muslim and Buddhist Thais brought a truckload of necessities to the Home for Children and Families to be donated to 18 Rohinya migrants residing there while about 20 youths will arrive at the home in the next few days.##



Call for regional help to deal with Rohingya

The Nation January 22, 2013 1:00 am
Ethnic Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar deserve the attention of Asean as their problems are huge, a panel of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says. Panel chairwoman Angkhana Neelapaijit spoke yesterday after visiting some Rohingya people in Narathiwat. More than 800 Rohingya were found to have illegally entered southern Thailand earlier this month to escape alleged violence in Myanmar. The news put the media spotlight and public attention squarely on them.

Flood of refugees should be discussed by Asean, NHRC says.

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority community from Rakhine state in western Myanmar. "This issue is big. It should be addressed at the Asean level. Myanmar is also a member of the regional grouping," Angkhana said. NHRC chairwoman Amara Pongsapich visited the Rohingya people with Angkhana. At the same time, Senator Jate Sirataranont urged Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to raise the issue of the Rohingya with Nay Pyi Taw, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh. "We need to find a balance between humanitarian issues and security concerns," he said.

Angkhana said the Thai government must also discuss the Rohingya with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organisation for Migration, the Red Cross and UNICEF. Jate argued that Thai authorities must send the Rohingya refugees to a third, Muslim country as fast as possible. However, as the process may take time, he believed the government should set up more temporary shelters for them. Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, however, expressed concern about creating more shelters for the Rohingya. "We can't take in too many people otherwise problems will arise in the long run. We have to take care of our national security," he said. It has been claimed there are more than 130,000 Rohingya in Thailand - although rights activists have suggested the figure is a fraction of that. But no third country has expressed an interest in taking them so far. Prayuth said Thai authorities should only provide humanitarian aid pending deportation of the Rohingya back to their homeland, or their move to a third country. "We won't ignore the humanitarian principles but we also must pay attention to our national interests," he said. He threatened action against any soldier involved in smuggling the Rohingya, given more claims of officers demanding money to escort refugees or economic migrants who want help to enter Malaysia. ##

Refugees The Nation January 19, 2013 1:00 am

Foreign organisations have always been quick with promises to help Thailand care for refugees fleeing violence, but rarely deliver, leaving the Kingdom to shoulder the burden alone, Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimaprakorn said yesterday.

Thailand is 'shouldering refugee burden alone'

Foreign organisations have always been quick with promises to help Thailand care for refugees fleeing violence, but rarely deliver, leaving the Kingdom to shoulder the burden alone, Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimaprakorn said yesterday.

He said that standard procedures in dealing with illegal immigrants, which stipulate that they be repatriated, should be maintained, or else the illegal entry of Rohingya into Thailand would continue. In the meantime, "Thailand is following a principle of feeding them and taking care of them, on humanitarian grounds," he added. "[Foreign agencies] always say that they want to help, but hardly ever do, so the burden falls on Thailand." the general said. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said later that setting up camps to accommodate Rohingya "did not address the ongoing problem", while coordination between Thai authorities and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and foreign relief agencies was underway. Asked about the possibility of repatriating the Rohingya to Myanmar, where they are considered by many to be an oppressed group who would face further persecution upon return, Yingluck said: "Don't put it that way. We are considering what safer places they should be placed in, at a later stage." In earlier comments, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung had not ruled out the possibility of setting up a camp to accommodate several hundred Rohingya who had entered Thailand illegally, if the number kept growing. "So far they are not in large numbers, and the Interior Ministry will make a final decision on this," he said. "The best option remains seeking third countries to host them - a process being worked out by the Foreign Ministry," he added. Rohingya migrants have been hosted in many provinces, cared for in part with donations provided by local Muslims and Buddhists, while those in poor health have received medical assistance. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official Bjorn Rahn visited Hat Yai Police Station in Songkhla, where 20 Rohingya have been detained for illegal entry. Rahn said later that he was happy with the conditions of the detention cells and promised to deliver more ICRC supplies to the detainees, while moving forward with legal procedures to help them. At a shelter in Narathiwat's Yi Ngor district, Muhammad Sabar, 14, led a prayer giving thanks to donors who gave relief supplies to him and 17 other young Rohingya. He also pleaded with Thai authorities to look for his parents, who disappeared while journeying to Thailand. "I thank all Thai people who have helped us. I never knew Thai people were full of compassion. If Myanmar were [a peaceful place] like Thailand, none of us would have left it," the boy said through an interpreter.##


Asia 21 January 2013 Burmese refugees sold on by Thai officials

By Jonah Fisher BBC News, Phuket, Thailand
Watch Jonah Fisher report from Thailand on the fate of people on this boat
An investigation by the BBC has revealed that Thai officials have been selling boat people from Burma to human traffickers. Thousands of Muslim Rohingya have fled to sea in recent months after deadly communal violence in Rakhine State, with many heading east across the

Andaman Sea to Thailand.

The BBC found that boats were being intercepted by the Thai navy and police, with deals then made to sell the people on to traffickers who transport them south towards Malaysia. The Thai government say they are taking the allegations seriously and have promised to investigate.

'Canned fish'

In November Ahmed said goodbye to his wife and eight children and left western Burma. His fishing boat had been destroyed in clashes between Muslim Rohingya and Rakhine Buddhists, and he needed to earn a living. With 60 others he travelled for 13 days on a flimsy wooden boat across the Andaman Sea to the coast of Thailand. When they were caught by the Thai navy not far from shore Ahmed thought his ordeal was over. In fact it had just begun. That night the Rohingya were taken from the border town of Ranong in a police van. After two hours they were bundled out and put in the back of six smaller vehicles and hidden under nets. "We were forced to lay down next to each other just like canned fish," he said. Ahmed did not know it at the time but a trade had taken place. The 61 Rohingya were now heading south towards Malaysia in the custody of peoplesmugglers. When they got out of the vehicles they were prisoners in Su Ngai Kolok, a town on the Thai Malaysia border. "They dug a hole for us to use as a toilet. We ate, slept and excreted in the same place," he said. "The smell was horrible. I was poked with an iron and beaten with a chain."

Ahmed's back is scarred from the beatings he received
The traffickers had paid money for the Rohingya and were determined to get their money back. Ahmed and the other Rohingya were periodically given a phone to call friends and family to beg for help. "The broker said that they bought us from police," he said. "If we don't give them money they won't let us go. They said: 'We don't care if

you die here'."

The price for Ahmed's life was set at 40,000 Thai Baht, about $1,300 (820) - a substantial amount for an exfisherman. Ahmed called his wife and instructed her to sell a cow. But that only raised half the amount. After a month as a captive, as he began to despair a fellow Rohingya in Thailand came to his rescue and loaned him the rest. Ahmed was set free and put on a bus back north to Phuket. Despite all that happened to him, he is surprisingly calm about his treatment by Thai officials. "I'm not angry at the navy. I don't hold any anger or grudge with me anymore. I'm so grateful that I'm alive," he said.

'Natural solution'

With weather conditions favourable Rohingya boats are now arriving on the Thai coast almost everyday. And Ahmed is not the only one being sold by Thai officials.
Whole families are trying to escape the communal violence in western Burma

We took a close look at the fate of one particular boat which arrived on New Year's Day off the holiday island of Phuket. On 2 January the 73 men, women and children were brought onshore, put in trucks and it was announced that they were being driven to the Thai/Burma border crossing at Ranong and deported. But they did not get that far. A deal

had been struck to sell the Rohingya to people smugglers.

When the trucks reached the town of Kuraburi, the Rohingya were transferred back into a boat and pushed back out to sea. We spoke to one of the brokers involved in the deal. They said that 1.5 million baht (about $50,000, 31,500) had been transferred from Malaysia and paid to officials in Thailand. That amount was confirmed to us by other members of the Rohingya community in Thailand. The Thai authorities told us they believe there are just a few corrupt officials. But in the border town of Ranong a Thai official closely linked with the Rohingya issue told us that working with the brokers was now regarded as the "natural" solution. With the Rohingya denied Burmese citizenship, deportation is fraught with difficulties.

Thailand considers the Rohingya to be economic migrants Thailand in turn does not want to encourage people that it considers to be almost almost exclusively economic migrants. "The Rohingya want to go Malaysia and Malaysia accepts these people because they are Muslims too," the official said. "No matter what they will try and go there, the question is how they get there." Malaysia has allowed the United Nations Refugee Agency to assess Rohingya claims for asylum. Thailand does not, reserving the right to determine for itself who it considers to be a refugee.

'Systematic solution'

We took our information to the Thai foreign ministry. Permanent Secretary Sihasak Puangketkaew told us an investigation was underway. "We cannot at this moment conclude who these perpetrators are but the Thai government is determined to get to the bottom of the problem," he said. "At the same time the Thai government is doing its best to take care of these people on the basis of humanitarian principles. "At the same time we feel very strongly that all of us will have to work together through international co-operation to see how we can put on place a durable and systematic solution." There have been influxes of Rohingya before and in 2009 the Thai government was heavily criticised for its policy of towing boats back out to sea. Those boats were almost exclusively male and the Thai government said they were economic migrants. This time it is different. Ethnic clashes in western Burma have forced more than 100,000 Rohingya into camps and for the first time the boats crossing the Andaman Sea are a mix of men, women and children.##

The Slave trade is back, Rohingya people sold on

Posted by Zain on January 25, 2013 World
Thai officials have been selling boat people from Burma to human traffickers, according to reports. The BBC has found that boats were being intercepted by the Thai navy and police, with deals then made to sell the people on to traffickers who transport them south toward Malaysia. Thailands Army chief called yesterday for a probe into senior army officials suspected of helping to traffic Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar through Thailand and on to a third country. This problem has been going on for some time. Anyone found to be involved especially soldiers will be prosecuted, expelled and charged with a criminal offense, army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said. Thai media reported that a police investigation had found senior army officers, some with ranks as high as major and colonel, were involved in smuggling Rohingyas from Myanmar into Malaysia via Thailand and that the trafficking had been going on for several years.

The UN estimates about 13,000 boat people, including many Rohingya, fled Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh in 2012, a sharp increase from 7,000 a year earlier. Around 800,000 Rohingyas live in Myanmar but are officially stateless and regarded as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants by the Myanmar government. Hundreds have fled recent sectarian violence involving majority Buddhists in Myanmars western state of Rakhine. ##

Migrants can stay for 6 months


Published: 26 Jan 2013 at 00.00 - Newspaper section: News

Rohingya migrants detained in Thailand will be allowed to stay in shelters in the South for another six months. Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul announced the reprieve after a meeting yesterday with the security agencies handling the 1,390 illegal migrants, including 200 women and children. The decision will later be forwarded to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for final approval. The government would have to set aside at least 12 million baht to pay for food for the migrants during the sixmonth period, Mr Surapong said. During the extended period, the Foreign Ministry would hold talks with international organisations including the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,

and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The talks would focus on assisting the Rohingya to seek asylum in a third country, as they are requesting, Mr Surapong said. Thailand would also discuss with Myanmar the development of Rohingya communities, he said. "I will also discuss the issue with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the British ambassador to Thailand, because it was the British people who brought the Rohingya to Myanmar in the first place," he said. The six-month reprieve is a temporary measure agreed on by the security agencies despite Thai law requiring authorities to repatriate illegal migrants as soon as possible, Mr Surapong said. Thailand still had more than 100,000 refugees to take care of and the cost of providing the Rohingya migrants with shelter and food would be high, he said, adding that the 12-million-baht budget would cover food costs at an estimated 75 baht a person each day.

In Prachuap Khiri Khan, some of about 120 male Rohingya migrants transferred to be detained at the province's immigration office staged a hunger strike calling for an improvement in the quality of food provided to them, said Bu, a Myanmar interpreter who talked to the migrants. Yusop Towang, president of Prachuap Khiri Khan Islamic Committee, said the committee was coordinating with the immigration officials to help improve the condition of the detention facilities and the food. The committee would campaign for donations of food, clothing and other necessities for the detained Rohingya, he said.##

More Boatpeople North of Phuket: Burma Must Be Made to Respond

By Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian
Sunday, January 27, 2013 - News Analysis
PHUKET: Another boat laden with Rohingya arrived north of Phuket about 1pm today, this time holding a cargo of 97 men and boys.

Rohingya boatpeople are heading south to Malaysia in record numbers Photo by Royal Thai Navy
With hundreds of Rohingya being held north of Phuket and more on the way, Thai government officials and NGOs will be seeking an urgent solution to the exodus surge next week. There are no easy answers. Already this month, at least 764 men, women and children have been apprehended in seven boats along the Andaman, beginning with the 73 held on Phuket on January 1. More boats are expected in the coming days, weeks and months. Further south along the Thai-Malaysia border, 900 or more people freed from secret traffickers' transit camps are being held in detention. The Thai government has said it is prepared to give the detainees six months' grace while attempting to find a complete solution. With the ''sailing season'' for boatpeople still having two full months to run, many thousands more Rohingya could arrive in Thailand between now and April, when the onset of the monsoons makes the voyage more perilous. Temporary detention centres now being improvised across the south in police and Immigration cells are not suitable for holding vast numbers of people for long periods. Envoys from the US, Europe and Australia have become involved in briefings in Bangkok, seeking with the UNCHR, Human Rights Watch and other NGOs to find a principled answer.

Boatpeople 'Destined for Factories or Trawlers' Rohingya captured and transported out of Thailand at the weekend - Photo by Anothai Ngandee
What has to be asked, of course, is what the Burmese make of all this. The flight of the Rohingya onto boats and out of Burma must be wish-fulfillment for the racists of Rakhine state, who want their perceived Muslim enemies out of the country. Somewhere, you would suspect, Burmese authorities are probably having a good belly laugh. And that's the alarming paradox. There can be no real, lasting solution without Burma. Burma is the problem. Imprisonment in cells across Thailand's south imposes an unfair penalty on a stateless people who clearly have a strong claim to refugee status. Yet Thailand plainly cannot acknowledge that fact, for fear of opening the floodgates. Four years ago, after the exposure of the reprehensible military ''pushbacks'' of Rohingya boats from Thailand, a group of Rohingya men and boys was held in detention at Ranong Immigration for several months.

112 Captive Rohingyas crowd into a local police pickup north of Phuket - Photo by Anothai Ngandee Nov. 11, 2012
During that time, the colonel in command assured Phuketwan more than once that the group were content and being well cared-for. Then two teenagers died in custody. And when the survivors were eventually transferred to the larger detention centre in Bangkok, some of them emerged from Ranong bent double and barely able to walk.

112 Captive Rohingyas are transferring into a local police pickup north of Phuket Photo by Anothai Ngandee Nov. 11, 2012
They had been deprived of exercise and sunlight, and kept in a space more confined even than on an overcrowded open boat. The same danger of maltreatment exists if talks proceed for a long period and the numbers of arriving Rohingya continue to pack every available detention space. ##


Isoc officers transferred over Rohingya

Published: 28 Jan 2013 at 17.59 - Online news: Local News
Two army officers attached to the southern area Region 4 office of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), suspected of being involved in the smuggling of Royingha migrants into the country, have been transferred out of the area, an army source said. The source said Lt-Gen Udomchai Thammasaroraj, the Fourth Army commander, signed an order to transfer the two -- a lieutenant colonel and a lieutenant -- although in an investigation there was no evidence to confirm their involvement in the trafficking of the illegal immigrants. "However, they have been transferred out of the area to prevent further problems because there had been complaints against them," the source said. There was no evidence against them because tambon administration organisation (TAO) officials who were involved in the smuggling of the Rohingya people had not been arrested for interrogation. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief, said to cope with the problem of the Rohingya migrants the army needed cooperation from other agencies such as the Interior Ministry and police. Pol Lt-Col Paisith Sangkhahapong, director of the Department of Special Investigation's (DSI) anti-human trafficking centre, said it was agreed last week at a meeting of security agencies that more than 800 Rohingya migrants who had been arrested for illegal entry would sent from the country in six months. In the meantime, Thailand would provide them with humanitarian assistance. The meeting was also attended by Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul. Thailand would coordinate with Myanmar to take the Rohingya people back and with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) help to find a third country to take them for resettlement. Pol Lt-Col Paisit said there was no evidence that the illegal Rohingya migrants had been smuggled into the country by a human trafficking ring. They were helped to enter the country and provided with shelter illegally but there was no evidence of a third country they were to be sent to, he said.##

Racha Rohingya helped on by Thai Navy

Phuket Gazette - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 10:18:39 PM
PHUKET: The group of Rohingya refugees discovered off Koh Racha Noi today numbering 205 in total were given food and water before being helped on in their southbound journey. On hearing the news of the refugees arrival, Rawai Municipality quickly dispatched a speedboat with basic provisions. The boat departed Chalong Pier about midday, and on arriving at Koh Racha Noi officers on board discovered that a Royal Thai Navy vessel was already there. About 10 Thai Navy officers checked the refugees and handed out food and water before allowing the refugees to continue their journey toward Malaysia, the Phuket Gazette was told.

Wed, January 30, 2013

Throughout the day the Gazette received conflicting reports about the refugees: some stating that there were only men and boys on the boat; others claiming women and children were also on board, as has been the trend with recent Rohingya arrivals in Thailand. One of the reports received by the Gazette identified Sarit Chandee, a villager on Koh Racha Yai, saying that the Rohingya were first spotted at sea by local fisherman last night. Mr Sarit described the boat as having two levels, being only several meters wide and 30m long. The Gazette has yet to learn whether the hundreds of Rohingya reported earlier today at Koh Phra Thong, on the Phang Nga coast north of Phuket, were also helped on or if they were taken into custody by Thai officials, like the hundreds of Rohingya who have arrived by boat over the past few weeks. The number of Rohingya coming ashore in Phang Nga has forced officials to relocate hundreds of them to immigration centers in other provinces across Southern Thailand (story here). State news agency MCOT reported yesterday that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought clarification from a variety of agencies on the plight and options of well over 1,000 Rohingya migrants currently in Thai custody (story here).##

Phuket News: Rohingya risk births at sea to flee Myanmar

Phuket Gazette - Thursday, January 31, 2013 10:49:56 AM

A newborn baby was among the 110 Rohingya men, women and children who arrived in Kuraburi, Phang Nga, yesterday. Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong Jan. 31, 2013 10:49:56 AM

A newborn baby was among the 110 Rohingya men, women and children who arrived in Kuraburi, Phang Nga, yesterday. Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong
PHUKET: A newborn baby just eight days old was among the boatload of Rohingya refugees who made landfall yesterday in the Surin Islands archipelago, in Phang Nga province, to the north of Phuket. As the boat landed, local people brought food and drinks to the refugees, Khura Buri District Chief Manit Pianthong said. An estimated 110 refugees were on the boat, among them 69 men, 20 women, and 21 children.

Two of the women were pregnant and 11 of the men were sick, said Chief Manit. The newborn baby had skin problems and was taken to Khura Buri Hospital. The refugees are currently being accommodated at the Khura Buri Shelter, but Chief Manit pleaded for help. More than 500 Rohingya have arrived in Phang Nga in just one month. We cannot accommodate them, and have to move them to other areas. We need the support and help of the government to solve this problem, he explained. ##


Poll: Rohingya refugee camp should be set up in Songkhla

Saturday, 02 February 2013 By NNT
SONGKHLA, 30 January 2013 A recent poll suggested that the majority of Songkhla residents agreed with the establishment of a Rohingya refugee camp in the province. Results from Hat Yai Poll, conducted on 1,002 respondents in Songkhla, found that 63.5 percent of residents believed a refugee camp for the displaced Rohingyas should be set up while 36.5 percent disagreed. 80.3 percent of those surveyed voiced their concerns that problems with migrant labor would undermine the countrys security. Nearly 65 percent of the respondents were not confident in the Yingluck administrations ability to solve ongoing issues with foreign workers. The majority of residents also thought that the governments 300-baht minimum wage policy was affecting the flow of foreign labor into the kingdom. Recently, Rohingya detainees have been transferred to immigration facilities in the South and the Central Plains, awaiting the governments next move.##

145 Rohingya found off Trang

Published: 3 Feb 2013 at 19.55 - Online news
About 145 Rohingya boat people were found crammed inside a vessel without food or water for 48 hours off Mook island in Trang's Sikao district on Sunday.

About 145 Rohingya boat people were found crammed inside a vessel without food or water for 48 hours off Mook island in Trang's Sikao district on Sunday.

The refugees told authorities that they were headed to Malaysia but their food and water had run out before they reached shore. Feeling exhausted and fatigued from hunger, they then decided to float their vessel off Mook island in the hope of being able to ask for food and water from the locals before they would go on, Pol Col Arthit Damsanit, chief of Marine Police Division 9, said. Of the 145 Rohingya, there were two women and two children, he said. Tourist boat operators spotted the vessel in the sea off Park Meng beach in tambon Mai Fard and informed the authorities. A combined team of marine police and Red Cross officials descended on the boat and provided basic humanitarian aid by giving them food supplies. Officials did not arrest them or bring them ashore because of lack of sheltering facilities. They only pressured them to stay out of Thai territorial waters, Pol Col Arthist said. About 1,700 Rohingya illegal migrants have been rounded up since early January. Thailand has provided them with food and water on humanitarian grounds. The Muslim Rohingya are a minority group in Myanmar's Rakhine state and claim they are fleeing violent persecution. Reports from local fishermen alerted fishing authorities who in turn asked for help from the navy which mounted a 20-hour search and rescue operation, officials said. They said it was unclear if those identified as Burmese nationals were Rohingya - members of a stateless Muslim minority described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted groups - who had fled Burma. An explosion of tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Burma's western state of Rakhine since June 2012 has triggered an seaborne exodus of Rohingya. Thailand's navy blocked more than 200 Rohingya boat people from entering the kingdom late last month as part of a new policy, under which they will be given food and water but barred from landing if their boat is seaworthy.##

Boy Born on a Boat Has No Homeland and an Uncertain Future

By Chutima Sidasathian - Monday, February 4, 2013
The baby born on a boat off Thailand's Andaman coast has no homeland - Photo by
PHUKET: His name is Muhamad Hamid and he is perhaps destined to remain a symbol of the hopelessness of the Rohingya cause. He was born at sea on a boat on December 24, but because his people are stateless and unwanted, there is no official record of his birth. He has no homeland, no place of belonging. His birth came on the eleventh day at sea as his mother, NuSu, 34, and her companions fled persecution and ethnic cleansing in Burma. Fortunately it rained on each of the days following Muhamad's birth, enabling him to be washed. Otherwise, precious drinking water would have had to be used.

Boy Born on a Boat Has No Homeland and an Uncertain Future

of Phuket.

By December 27 the Rohingya boat had landed in Thailand, on the Andaman coast north of Phuket. Muhamad is now a name on the list of women and children being held at a refuge for women and children in Phang Nga, the province north

On the boat were two other pregnant women, one due in four months and another due in two months. Women and children are likely to flee in larger numbers as the campaign to drive them and all Rohingya from the Burmese state of Rakhine intensifies. Since communal violence wracked the state in June, almost 20,000 Rohingya have put to sea in an exodus that shows no sign of slowing. The figure documents only departures from around the border of Bangladesh and Burma, where keeping records is possible. Further south around the township of Sittwe, where most of the ethnic cleansing is taking place, records cannot be kept. However, a similar number of Rohingya is likely to have left from there. Most of the boats with women and children on board seem to have departed because life for Rohingya families in and around Sittwe is being made unbearable. Families are split up in Thailand, where the future of about 1500 Rohingya is currently being debated while they wait in refuges and detention centres. This year, perhaps for the first time, the exodus is likely to continue beyond the safe ''sailing season'' between the monsoons. Agencies working with the Rohingya report that many family members are eventually reunited, having departed on different boats perhaps years apart. The saddest thing, agency workers say, is that about one in every four or five boats sink, and usually there are no survivors and no one to say why family members will not be arriving. ##


Thailand as the Rohinyas' New Destination

By Kavi Chongkittavorn February 4, 2013
On the surface, Thailand's decision to allow hundreds of Rohingya refugees to remain inside the country temporarily for six months as illegal immigrants seemed a commendable move.
However, upon deeper scrutiny it showed the government's knee-jerk manner of responding to the influx of "new boat people" from the Bay of Bengal and the overall recklessness among intra-government agencies. Worse still was the view held by the secretary-general of the National Security Council, Lt-General Paradon Pattanathaboot, who continues to be in a state of denial, believing that the Rohingya are not victims of a region-wide human trafficking operation. The Thai authorities believe they are victims of human smugglers who dump them in Thailand before they go to Malaysia.

Regional Perspective

For the past few years, after the monsoon season ends, the Rohingya have taken to the sea inside small fishing trawlers arranged by smugglers. They have pay outrageous fees upfront to evade detection from camps and border guards. That is the easy part. The hard part is to survive the rough, often deadly, journey in high seas. Most of the trawlers would sail along the coastal areas southward, trying to navigate hostile seas and avoid naval patrols from Bangladesh and Myanmar. If they are found, they would have to pay additional bribes. Before the current seafaring episode, the Rohingya used to be smuggled out through border areas in northern Myanmar through China, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

Under the previous government, the Thai naval patrols would push back the Rohingya once they were spotted closed to Thai territorial waters. The standard practice adopted by Thailand, as well as other countries, is to provide food, water and fuel so that they could continue the journey to their destinations. When the Abhisit government did exactly that after a few weeks in power in January 2009, it came under international condemnation for violating human rights. In those days, the unwelcome visitors were detained as illegal immigrants and then quickly repatriated through border towns on the Kingdom's eastern flank, especially at Mae Sot. However, most of them would return to Thailand shortly after, as they did not know where to go or desire to return home. That used to be the prima facie. Before the tragedy in Rakhine State last June, the inflow was small with a few hundred arrivals. Malaysia and Indonesia were their destinations.

In the second half of last year, the number went through the roof with more than 4,000 stranded Rohingya in Thailand. With the international community setting its eyes once again on their fate inside Myanmar, Bangladesh and Thailand, the Yingluck government was savvy enough to take the risk sheltering them temporarily before a better solution is found. As illegal immigrants, they could stay up to six months. Unfortunately, the government's action could send a wrong signal in two ways. For the international community, Thailand is willing to shelter them temporarily, which is a new policy shift. For the trafficker, Thailand has become a new destination. New waves of arrivals could be expected in the near future. Human traffickers have connections inside Thailand, Malaysia, and even in Myanmar and often coordinate their operations. Of late, bus loads of Rohingya have been seen travelling from Songkhla across Sadao's checkpoints to Malaysia. The Rohingya labourers are in big demand over there inside palm and rubber plantations as well as for construction work. Both countries are under the Tier 2 Watch List according to the 2012 Trafficking In Persons Report released by the US State Department. However, this bad news is good news in southern Thailand, especially in Songkhla and Ranong. Fishing industry players including canned seafood factories have been suffering from a cheap-labour shortage. They have been

hiring the Rohingya for years at around Bt80 per day against the new mandatory wage of Bt300 per day. Last week, they demanded the government permit these illegal immigrants to fill up the gap in the work force. Strange but true, the government's wage hike is now being offset in the form of cheap Rohingya workers. Such a scheme will essentially lead to the exploitation of cheap labour and gross violations of human rights a new form of slavery that has poisoned the country's reputation.

Once the 6-month period expires, the government has to shoulder the burden of sheltering them in case the international assistance, especially resettlement in third countries, is not forth coming. Therefore, various intragovernment agencies must be prepared and use lessons learned from the various camps along the Thai-Burmese border, which have housed more than 400,000 displaced persons from Myanmar for nearly three decades. To find a long-term solution, all concerned countries and stakeholders must get involved. After the 2009 influx and push-back campaign, a series of international conferences on migration, known as the Bali Process, were held to look at the big picture. The earlier hope of finding a durable solution with international support has gradually faded away, as third countries are not accepting more displaced persons from temporarily shelters spreading throughout Southeast Asian countries. Malaysia now has around 55,000 Rohingya, while Thailand has an estimated 35,000. The number of Rohingya will certainly be swelling in coming months as traffickers have been alerted of the new Thai policy. Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said recently that Thailand would seek help from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the near future. Obviously, the Yingluck government is playing the OIC card, knowing full well it is scrutinising the atrocities in the south. Thailand hopes to generate some good feedback. For years after its admission as an OIC observer, Thailand, especially under the Surayuth government (20062007), tried to counter and mitigate negative views from other OIC members regarding the three southern

provinces and the treatment of the Rohingya, with a high degree of success. Thailand does not have anything to fear, especially the OIC, if the situation on the ground has improved as the government has claimed. At the regional level, Asean has to treat this issue urgently. After all, Myanmar is now an active member, and will chair the grouping next year. After the Rohingya crisis in Rakhine State last fall, Asean, led by Cambodia and Indonesia, urged Myanmar to agree to attend an Asean foreign ministerial meeting on the fate of the Rohingya. But Nay Pyi Taw rejected the proposal outright and severely criticised the proposed conference as an act of interference in the internal affairs of a member country. At the 21st Asean Summit, Myanmar successfully pressed its colleagues to skip mentioning the Rohingya crisis as part of the regional issues. Instead, the violence was treated in the context of the protection of the rights of women, children and vulnerable groups in Rakhine state. Asean can also raise the issue with Bangladesh, which has expressed interest in becoming a dialogue partner of Asean. Finally, as Thai-Myanmar relations have improved, coupled with the ongoing political and economic reforms, the two countries should sit down and devise common preventive measures to stem the flow of Rohingya. They could be properly registered as legal workers. These days, arrivals in southern cities do not face the same kind of bribes, of around US$2,000 or Bt60,000. Their journey is arranged and paid for by traffickers. At the moment, Thailand has come under heavy pressure from the private sector to be more expedient over the time frame of registration of migrant workers from Myanmar, understanding the need for more cheap foreign workers. With political will at the bilateral, regional and international levels, a lasting solution to the Rohingya problem is possible. However, like the Roma people in Europe, the fate of the Rohingya will be constantly in limbo moving up and down, at the mercy of low and high sea tides, hurling them towards the shores of neighbouring countries.##

No willing hosts for Rohingyas

Monday, February 04, 2013, Rabi ul Awal 22,1434

Air Cdre Khalid Iqbal (R) is Consultant, Policy & Strategic Response, IPRI.
Monday, February 04, 2013 - The United Nations considers Rohingyas of Myanmar as a persecuted religious
and linguistic minority. Myanmar considers this community, of about 800,000, settled in Rakhine, as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Despite their continuous residential reality, at least since 1947, Myanmar is reluctant to grant them their due citizenship rights. A statement, last year, by Burmese President Thein Sein that all Rohingyas should either be deported or placed in refugee camps sparked a mass exodus. Rakhine Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim communities have co-existed for generations. They are now being forcibly segregated. Barriers have been erected a cross roads in the state capital and thousands of Rakhine have had their homes destroyed. Divide between Buddhists and ethnic Muslims echoes of similar happenings in the Balkans.

Myanmars quasi-civilian government has failed to intervene and prevent the hardships being perpetrated upon hapless Rohingyan minority. It is also ironic that the iconic lady from Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, who herself faced brutality and was awarded a Nobel prize for services to humanity has not been able to come forward and play a meaningful role to resolve this humanitarian crisis. Myanmar government has imposed emergency rule in response to continued tension in Rakhine state. However, the application of preventive rules is selective; while Buddhists remain free to move around, Rohingyas movement is being incrementally restricted. To avoid

persecution in Burma, Rohingya Muslims flee to Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia, where they are treated as stateless migrants. More and more Rohingyas are now risking their lives by attempting to migrate on boats. Once apprehended, they are deported back to Myanmar after a short trial. Hundreds of them have been arrested at Dhaka International Airport in recent months. Such attempts are on the rise, these Rohingyas are mostly caught at immigration when their fake passports go under the scanner, said Hasanul Haider, Commanding Officer of Airport Armed Police. Myanmar has rejected an offer by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to begin negotiations for bringing the communal violence to an end. According to the ASEANs Secretary General Mr Surin Pitsuwan, Myanmar believes it is their internal matter. But your internal matter could be ours the next day if you are not careful, Mr Surin said on January 29. He proposed setting up of tripartite talks between ASEAN, the UN and Myanmars government to prevent the violence from having a broader regional impact. The bloodshed has led to about 180 deaths since June 2012. Fresh fighting in Rakhine this year has resulted in another 88 killings. Human Rights groups fear that actual number of deaths could be much higher. Unbridled violence has also manifested in torching of thousands of homes, resulting in tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims ending-up in overcrowded shanty camps, where they live under sub-human conditions. Al Jazeeras Wayne Hay reported from Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state that: Around 100,000 people have been displaced since the fighting started back in June. Most of those displaced lost their homes when they were burned down in what they say is a deliberate attempt by the predominantly Buddhist government to drive them out of the country. There were securities forces present before the latest violence started, Muhammad Juhar, a Rohingya Muslim, told Al Jazeera. But when the fighting came to our town, there was no securityWhen they did arrive, it was too late and they also shot into the crowds of Muslims, Juhar added. The UNHCR has requested Myanmars neighbouring countries to open their borders for those who are fleeing the fighting. The UNHCR says there are about 25,000 Rohingyas registered in Malaysia. Many Rohingya Muslims escaping the communal violence have also sought refuge in Bangladesh and Thailand. Though it is a dangerous journey and after all that trouble, most of them are turned back. According to the Bangladesh Coast Guard, at least 350 would-be refugees have reportedly drowned in the sea since July 2012. This figure, however, reflects only those incidents that have been reported by survivors or their families. Actual numbers could be much higher.
On 22 October 2012 the Rakhine Buddhists extremists with RNDP members burnt-down the Suleman Jame Mosque of Paikthay Ward in Kyaukpyu Town of Arakan State. Photo:
Carlos Sardia Galache

Rejected as citizens by both Bangladesh and Burma, they continue to be victimised in the camps where they seek shelter. Deliveries to camps on Myebon camp have to be made by boat, and attempts to get proper sanitation and supplies into Taung Paw have so far been blocked. Rakhine Buddhists control the jetty and are refusing to allow aid agencies regular access to the Rohingya camp. Obstruction by the Buddhist community was preventing aid workers from doing 90% of their work. Only the Burmese military could force the aid through, but it has so far refused to intervene.


Rohingya minority children held by women board a bus after they were rescued by Thai authorities in Songkhla province, southern Thailand on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. Nearly 700 boat people from Myanmar's beleaguered Rohingya minority were rescued from alleged human traffickers in two separate raids near Thailands southern border, Thai authorities said Friday. (AP Photo/Sumeth Panpetch) Photo Credit: AP | January 11, 2013

Rohingyas who have crossed over to Bangladesh, reside in Madham Charpara and are not registered as refugees. Since 1992 the Bangladeshi government has denied permission to the UNHCR to register Rohingya refugees. They are still considered illegal migrants and are not entitled to food, healthcare or education provided by the UNHCR and its partner organisations. According to a survey conducted by Doctors without Borders, 40% of deaths in unregistered camps are caused by diarrhoea. There is only one toilet for every ten families. The unhygienic life these refugees are leading here is the main cause of their illnesses, said Professor Pran Gopal Datta, Vice Chancellor of Bangabandhu Medical University. Director of Human Rights Watchs refugee programme in Bangladesh, Mr Bill Frelick, said: This is sheer inhuman treatment. He added that unregistered refugees cannot get healthcare facilities outside their camps, and the aid agencies with better medical treatments are not allowed to reach them either. Bangladesh government has ordered at least three international aid organisations to cease assistance to Rohingya refugees living outside registered UNHCR camps. This is a cruel policy, remarked Frelick. Since the Rohingyas are ethnically Bengali, many chose to seek refuge in Bangladesh, which now has an estimated population of some quarter of a million Rohingyas. Bangladesh does not appreciate the presence of the Rohingyas, despite their ethnic ties to the country and has been striving to make life as difficult as possible for them in the hope that they will leave. The UN needs to take bold steps to resolve the issue in a wholesome way, beyond the refugee dimension of the issue. It needs to act with the speed and will with which acted in case of East Timor. Writer is Consultant, Policy & Strategic Response, IPRI. ##