Rohingya Arakanese Refugee Committee (RARC), formerly known as ARRC is the key refugee committee of the Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, working for their welfare and advocating their causes to find permanent solution through effective and global initiatives
The Thai government should
quickly decide on temporary shelters for displaced Rohingya people until
practical longer-term solutions are reached, says a member of the National
Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Dr Niran Pitakwatchara said he was concerned that
the Rohingya refugees were being deprived of basic rights while under temporary
care in Thailand.
After drifting at the sea and being towed into
various islands in southern Thailand
since early this year, the migrants have been kept in scattered shelters and
detention centres nationwide.
Now it is time for the government to decide what
to do next, said Dr Niran.
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled
persecution in Myanmar over
the past year and many have ended up in Thailand.
They faced poor temporary shelter, exploitation
by trafficking gangs, and extortion from smuggling gangs during their stay in Thailand, Dr
Niran said at a seminar on the refugee problem.
He suggested that something could still be done
despite the seeming lack of long-term policy measures.
"Though Thailand is not a signatory [to the
1951 UN Refugee Convention], relevant ministries could actually expedite their
authority in providing decent and appropriate shelters for these people, based
on human rights principles in the Thai Constitution," said Dr Niran.
Any local communities identified as sites for
temporary shelters should be closely consulted before the Rohingya are
relocated, he said.
"Being a refugee is not criminal. The
Rohingya are not illegal immigrants," he said, arguing against the use of
"There is adequate religious and community
support for the Rohingya while they wait for appropriate durable
The Immigration Act, he said, gave authorities
the discretion to move out the Rohingya to a proper place outside of
immigration detention centres.
The need for a better solution has become more
urgent, agreed Saowanee Khomepatr, director of the Anti-Trafficking in Women
and Children division of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.
Whatever decisions are made, policymakers should
implement them quickly since separated families have become disheartened and
some were being lured by gangsters to meet up with their families in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Maung Kyaw Nu, president of the Burmese Rohingya
Association in Thailand,
said Asean and the world should no longer allow Myanmar
to permit genocide against the Rohingya, who were a legitimate ethnic group
The Rohingya are Aryan descendants of Mongoloid
origin and the Myanmar
government must return citizenship to them, he said.
Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch said the
Rohingya exodus in the past year included more women and children as conditions
inside their country of origin deteriorated.
Communication problems and uncertainty in their
future have made them unwilling to cooperate with fact-finding and informal
registration, said Mr Sunai.
He proposed that the Thai government work with
the UN refugee agency to check numbers and carry out formal registration while
the migrants are under the temporary protection of Thailand.
He also said the government remained lax in
uncovering and prosecuting trafficking gangs. In some cases the gangs have
operated with the cooperation or active participation by Thai police and
military figures, activists have claimed.
The one positive policy development, he said, had
been that the Yingluck Shinawatra government had promised not to deport the
Rohingya against their will, while the previous Democrat administration allowed
them to be quietly pushed back at the border.
Surapong Kongchuntuk, a member of the Human
Rights Committee of the Lawyers Council of Thailand, said authorities should
communicate and coordinate with Thai society to better accommodate the
temporary stay of the Rohingya.
"The Thai government has prepared a set of
policies on illegal immigrants which include the Rohingya but the National
Security Council has dragged this out without launching specific
measures," he said.
He suggested that for a start, all coastal and
inland officials should be told not to deport or push Rohingya boat people back
Trafficking syndicates, especially the uniformed
and civilian officials in their ranks, should be also punished to give a stern
warning to traffickers, added Mr Surapong
The government must decide
quickly on temporary shelters for displaced Rohingya until more permanent
solutions are found, a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
says. NHRC commissioner...