Monday, January 14, 2013
Thailand arrests more than 150 Rohingya
BANGKOK (AFP) – Thailand arrested and pledged to deport more than 150 Myanmar Rohingya migrants discovered in a hidden camp near the country’s southern border with Malaysia, police said Monday.
The 71 men and 85 women and children were found on a rubber plantation in Songkhla Province, local police colonel Krisakorn Pleetanyawong said, four days after some 400 Rohingya were discovered in another raid in the province.
“They will be treated under the law as illegal immigrants and will be deported,” he told AFP, adding that a Thai man had also been arrested on suspicion of violating immigration law.
Thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim minority group not recognised as citizens in Myanmar, have fled communal unrest in the country’s western Rakhine state, heading to Thailand and other countries.
Rights groups decry Thailand for failing to help Rohingya migrants who reach its territory, instead pushing them back to Myanmar or into neighbouring countries including Malaysia, which offers sanctuary to the minority group.
Human Rights Watch has called on Thai authorities to allow the United Nations’ refugee agency access to the Rohingya before taking action to deport them.
HRW Thailand researcher Sunai Phasuk said women and children were increasingly among boatloads of Rohingya fleeing Myanmar.
“It appears that the families are being uprooted in their homeland and they have to seek somewhere safe to stay,” he told AFP.
The UN has urged Myanmar’s neighbours to open their borders to people escaping a wave of communal violence in Rakhine.
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.