HRW 'Seriously concerned' about Thai deportation of Rohingya

Friday, February 14, 2014

1,300 Rohingya detained in immigration detention centers in Thailand sent back to Myanmar authorities 3 months ago.

1,300 Rohingya detained in immigration detention centers in Thailand sent back to Myanmar authorities 3 months ago.

By Arnaud Dubus

BANGKOK - Human Rights Watch reacted with "serious worry" Friday to news that Thailand deported 1,300 Rohingya Muslims back to Myanmar three months ago under the supervision of an unnamed "NGO."

Thailand's immigration bureau commissioner told local newspaper the Bangkok Post on Wednesday that all 1,300 Rohingya detained in immigration detention centers in Thailand had been sent back to Myanmar authorities “in a clear and transparent manner” under the supervision of an “NGO (non-government organisation) working on protecting the rights of minorities”.

“We don’t even know what NGO he (bureau commissioner Pharnu Kerdlarpphon) is referring to,” Sunai Pasuk, Thailand's Director for Human Rights Watch, told the Anadolu Agency on Friday.

“We are seriously worried because they sent them back to the Myanmar authorities and these are the ones responsible for the human rights violations against Rohingya in the first place,” he added.

Kerdlarpphon said in the interview that Thailand had ‘’deported them under an international principle, but after each deportation we don’t have a chance of knowing where they will be taken.’

Pasuk said that last year the same group of Rohingya had been refused entrance at the Thai border, but they were later trafficked into Thailand.

"But this time, the concern is that there is no security if they are given to the Myanmar officials,” he said.

Rohingya have been arriving in Rakhine state - in the western part of Myanmar - from Eastern Bengal and Bangladesh over generations, but the Myanmar government refuses to grant them citizenship, saying they are illegal immigrants.

Tensions between them and local Buddhists, known as Arakanese, have always been high, but they boiled over in 2012 when several large clashes provoked the death of 192 people and left 140,000 homeless.

Since then, Rohingya have been confined to grim camps in Rakhine.

Many of them pay large amounts of money to traffickers in an effort to flee the country on cramped boats in the hope of finding work in Malaysia or Australia.

Thousands of these migrants have landed in Thailand's south where they fall prey to other human traffickers and corrupt local police officers.

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