Posts Tagged ‘Land of Smiles is full of hypocrisy’
Ranong,Thailand: A Thai court on Wednesday convicted 66 men detained at sea of illegally entering the country, raising the prospect they could be deported despite fears they may face persecution or death if sent back to Myanmar.
A Ranong provincial court judge fined each defendant 1,000 baht, or about $30 – a sum that none of them could produce. So he sentenced them to five days in prison. Four others were brought in from the hospital to face sentencing, one carried by two men because his legs were broken.
The Thai Navy detained the Rohingya migrants on Monday after their rickety boat was found adrift in the Andaman Sea off the southwestern coast of Thailand. The Thai government contends that the migrants do not qualify for refugee status, and a police official said that they would be turned over to immigration police after they served their sentence and could be expelled. “Have pity on us,” one migrant, Mamoud Hussain, said before the ruling. “They’ll kill me and my family if I go back.” Hussain, 50, was among 78 migrants on the boat. Twelve minors were being held separately by the immigration police because they were too young to be tried in the court, said Colonel Weerasilp Kwanseng of the Ranong police.
The plight of the Rohingyas – a stateless, Muslim ethnic group who fled persecution in Myanmar, also known as Burma – was highlighted earlier this month following accusations that some of them had been abused by the Thai authorities. Human rights groups say the Thai Navy has twice intercepted boats filled with hundreds of Rohingyas from Bangladesh and abandoned them at sea, where hundreds later died.
But the Washington group Refugees International has warned that any Rohingya repatriated to Myanmar “is subject to arrest and abuse.
” Hussain said that his group fled Myanmar about a month ago to escape poverty and persecution and that the Myanmar Navy intercepted their vessel as it sailed south toward Thailand. He said soldiers from four boats boarded their vessel with wooden and metal rods and beat them.
“They told us there are no Muslims in Burma, and they continued to beat us,” he said. The migrants were detained for 10 days and then let go. “They told us not to come back again, or they’ll shoot us all.”
Tens of thousands of Rohingyas live in camps in Bangladesh, where many have been granted refugee status. Many more brave the seas in search of a better life. One of the most popular migration routes has been by boat from Bangladesh or Myanmar to Thailand then overland to Malaysia.
Colonel Manat Kongpan of the Thai Army said a navy patrol found the migrants near Surin Island in Ranong, 460 kilometers, or 285 miles, southwest of Bangkok. They were handed over to police custody. The Thai police fed the emaciated, haggard migrants and treated their injuries.
The Thai authorities’ care for the migrants was covered on state television in an apparent attempt to mitigate some of the damage done to Thailand’s image earlier this month when a refugee advocacy group based in Bangkok accused the navy of forcing as many as 1,000 mostly Rohingya migrants out to sea in boats with no engines and little food or water. The Arakan Project said as many as 300 later drowned.
The Thai prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has said the authorities would investigate the allegations.
Chin reportedly persecuted
Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that the ruling military junta in Myanmar was subjecting the ethnic Chin people to torture, arbitrary arrest, forced labor, extrajudicial killings and religious persecution, Mark McDonald reported from Hong Kong.
The oppression has forced tens of thousands of Chin to flee from western Myanmar to India, the group said.
The rights group, which is based in New York, issued a report on the plight of the Chin at a news conference Wednesday in Bangkok. Compiled from nearly four years of interviews and investigations, it calls on the Indian federal government and Mizoram State officials to extend protections to the Chin, a predominantly Baptist minority.