Author Topic: Boatpeople and Modern Slavery  (Read 2285 times)

Offline Johnnie F.

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Boatpeople and Modern Slavery
« on: January 20, 2013, 02:33:08 PM »
Secrets of Thailand's Trade in Men, Women and Children Revealed: Boatpeople and Modern Slavery

PHUKET: How do stateless Rohingya men, women and children, generally regarded as the most downtrodden people in the world, end up as slaves with a price on their heads in Thailand?

With Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha's admission yesterday that renegade officers engage in human trafficking, the process should be revealed for all the world to see.

BBC and Aljazeera teams are about to expose the horror of Thailand's trade in human flesh. And today, Phuketwan can reveals the details of the process.

Many of the boatpeople, seeking sanctuary from violence and hatred in Burma, still believe they are being ''helped on'' by the Thai military when their boats are intercepted in the Andaman Sea.

Many of those interceptions occur in the Andaman Sea around the international holiday island of Phuket, where tourists on day-trips traverse the same waters.

Only when the Rohingya are in the trafficker's secret camp will they be told: ''You are a prisoner. There is a price to be paid for your freedom.''

Why are women and children now fleeing for the first time, in the same boats as their Rohingya menfolk?

With the destruction of their homes or their confinement through ethnic cleansing, conditions in their homeland, the Burmese state of Rakhine, are now unbearable.

This week one Rohingya mother told Phuketwan that she was raped by a Burmese soldier some 18 years ago, giving birth to twin boys as a result.

Since the fresh violence in June, her two teenage daughters had been raped by a new generation of Burmese soldiers almost every night, she said.

Phuketwan cannot confirm the mother's story but it does help to explain why families are fleeing . . . and they sail straight into the hands of equally evil people in Thailand.

The Andaman coast brokers have become increasingly brazen in the knowledge that nobody in authority is prepared to stop them.

Visitors are making constant requests to take children, one of the welfare centres for recently-rescued Rohingya women and children north of Phuket reported today. The Rohingya children are now being closely watched.

THE ROHINGYA boatpeople put to sea either with or without brokers in ricketty open boats from southern Bangladesh, or from northern or central Burma.

Aid agencies have managed with difficulty to record departures from Bangladesh and northern Burma. The boats leaving from around the crisis zone township of Sittwe are virtually undocumented.

Small boats with brokers on board, generally crowded with as many paying passengers as is possible to fit with little room to move, will generally aim for Thailand's Similan islands.

Sometimes, boats will leave in a convoy of five, seven or more vessels, perhaps containing a thousand people all told, and monitor each other by sight.

Storms disturb convoys and account for at least four sinkings with the loss of hundreds of lives since the ''sailing season'' began in October. Boats can lose their way and end on the Thai coast.

Depending on winds and currents, after seven to 10 days at sea and with dried rice and water depleted, the boats point towards Thailand.

Those with brokers on board will target specific ports - Ranong, on the Burma-Thai border, Phuket, or Langkawi, a holiday island in Malaysia.

Having aimed for the Similans enables most boats to avoid the Thai military patrols, which are usually active closer to the coast.

The boats with brokers on board usually have prearranged interceptions or will come ashore at a prearranged point. The boat's human cargo can then be transferred for a road trip south to the secret camps hidden in plantations on the Thai side of the Malaysian border.

Three camps were raided recently, with the ''rescue'' of more than 850 men, women and children, but there are known to be many more camps in southern provinces of Thailand yet to be raided.

The camps survive and have grown in number and scale over the past few years because local authorities - and in some cases military and police - are paid to turn a blind eye.

AT SEA OFF the Andaman and Phuket coast, the boatpeople who sail without a broker on board become easy targets.

The Rohingya vessels are usually intercepted by small military boats. The officers on board will not be able to speak Bengali, the commonly used language of the Rohingya.

The officers will have the Rohingya speak to a translator on a mobile telephone, to explain the ''help on'' policy.

In theory, the current Thai policy is to provide water and food and other assistance so that boatpeople can be assisted to ''a third country'' on condition that they do not come ashore in Thailand.

In practice, the translator is often a broker. The military vessel's captain will ask the boatpeople to follow them . . . and connect with the broker either at sea or along the coast.

Brokers told Phuketwan this week that their preference is to connect with Rohingya boats at sea. The asking price is cheaper that way.

The military have done their job, to ''help on'' the Rohingya, and the pay of some for guarding Thailand's border has received a bonus boost.

Only on shore, in the broker's control as virtual slaves, will the truth become apparent to the Rohingya. They are now captives of a second broker, and they have a fresh fee to pay.

MOST ROHINGYA understand when they sail that they may need to negotiate and pay to cross the border in secret from Thailand into Malaysia.

So they carry the telephone number of a close relative or friend who has access to money, and who can help them.

Ismail, a Rohingya bought for 40,000 baht recently by a Phuket group who wanted only to ''rescue'' someone, suffered severe beatings for weeks because he made one mistake, a mistake that almost cost his life.

A statelessfisherman in Burma struggling to support a family, one day he saw a boat pass him by laden with a cargo of people.

It was bound for Malaysia, he learned, with space for one more. So he jumped on board, telling himself he was doing the right thing for the future of his wife and children.

Now, hidden away on Phuket and recovering from his severe wounds, he has a chance to set things right. Others ends up indentured for up to a year in harsh conditions on trawlers to pay off brokers.

Bit by bit, the ongoing part played by Thailand in Burma's continuing inhumanity to its own people is becoming more widely known.

For the Rohingya, the beatings, the repression and the rapes will continue until the neighboring nations of Burma commit to a loud call for change.


Online Taman Tun

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Re: Boatpeople and Modern Slavery
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2013, 03:15:45 PM »
Johnnie this is just a horrendous story.  A few weeks  ago I had to attend a training course with about 50 other people regarding how to work safely on and around railway tracks (KTMB 038).  It became apparent that a couple of guys standing  next to me could not understand what was going on.   The instructor came and spoke to them and they said they were from Myanmar.  Good for them..they are trying to earn money for their families but I know that many of them have to work for six months just to pay off their agents.  Not right at all.
If the old only could, if the young only knew.

Offline thaiga

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Re: Boatpeople and Modern Slavery
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2013, 08:42:02 PM »
Thai officials will go to an island off Phang Nga today after another boatload of Rohingya refugees - thought to be the fourth over the past week or so - was found there late yesterday. Officials said the refugees were hiding in jungle on the unnamed island and it was too dark to try to round them up last night.

The arrival of two more vessels - one on the island, and another towed ashore near Khura Buri on Friday means about 1,000 Rohingya have landed on Thailand's Andaman coast or been captured in Sadao, further south, this month.

Meanwhile, five more vessels are allegedly at sea and heading this way, according to refugees on the "third" vessel, who came ashore on Friday.

Some 114 people were on "third" boat that arrived in Phang Nga province on Friday, about 100km south of Ranong. These refugees, aged from 60 to a one-year-old baby, were said to be in a very weak condition as they had run out of food and water, despite having stopped and collected water on an island on their 13-day journey south.

A translator working for Al Jazeera said the Rohingya on the "third" boat told provincial officials they were on one of eight boats that left Sittwe together. Only three of these had arrived in Thailand to date. The eight boats drifted apart over the past two weeks and the location of the other five is unknown.

Sittwe is a port in Arakan State (also known as Rakhine State) in western Myanmar close to sites where ethnic violence caused more than 100 deaths and forced tens of thousands of people - mostly Muslims - to flee their homes in June and then again just a few months ago.

District officials were overseeing aid for the "third" boatload at the district hall in Khura Buri yesterday. Medics and local Muslims were helping to give out medicine, food and blankets. Many people on this boat were sick, none were said to have died during the trip.

Four teenage boys who had been on the "third" vessel but hid from Thai authorities on an island off the coast before it was towed to the mainland, wandered into the camp yesterday to join their friends after getting a lift to the mainland on another boat.

All up some 114 on the "third" vessel had been charged by police for illegal entry into Thailand.

Meanwhile, about 550 were found in raids in Sadao, further south, and 135 arrived on two vessels that arrived last week.

Officials in Khura Buri said they were waiting to hear from top authorities in Bangkok on what to do with the latest arrivals.

Many of the Rohingya survivors have been stuck in refugee camps not far from Sittwe living in bleak conditions and facing an uncertain future, given that Nay Pyi Taw has refused to recognise them as citizens, and asked United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres in June to resettle them.

The Myanmar government calls the Rohingya "Bengalis" and insists they arrived in their country in recent times, despite evidence by academics that this ethnic group has lived in the Rakhine area for several centuries.

The Nation
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


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Re: Boatpeople and Modern Slavery
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2013, 02:24:18 PM »
This story has just been featured on the BBC News. Thailand seems to be going from bad to worse.

Offline thaiga

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Re: Army chief says "No" to Rohingya refugee camp
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2013, 03:38:12 PM »
BANGKOK, Jan 21 – Thai Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha today voiced opposition to the opening of a centre for Rohingya migrants on Thai soil, saying it will create chronic problems to Thailand in the long run.

He said the Rohingya minority people did not flee a war or fighting in their country but illegally entered Thailand which compelled legal action by Thai authorities.

Thailand must look after them on humanitarian grounds but their time here must not affect national security, he said, adding that sheltering migrants will create problems for the country in the long run as are the cases of 130,000  displaced people currently at nine centres who have not been resettled in third countries.

Gen Prayuth said the longer illegal migrants stay in Thailand, the harder the problem can be to resolve for it leads to more human trafficking, illegal employment and expanding families.

He called on the world community to cooperate in dealing with the problem of illegal migrants instead of leaving the issue to be solely tackled by Thailand.

Gen Prayuth vowed tough legal and disciplinary actions against military officials implicated in the human trafficking racket.

It was reported that some ranking officers of the 4th Region Internal Security Operations Command are involved in smuggling Rohingya migrants from Myanmar. (MCOT online news)
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


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Re: Boatpeople and Modern Slavery
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2013, 03:43:50 PM »
What's it got to do with him? Oh, yes, the army decides what happens and doesn't happen.

Offline thaiga

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Foreign Ministry insists assistance for Rohingya only temporary

BANGKOK, Jan 23 – Thailand's Foreign Ministry has called on the world community and other countries to lend their hands in solving the problem of Rohingya migrants in the long run.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Manasvi Srisodapol said the government intends to assist more than 800 Rohingya migrants arrested and sheltered in Thailand only a temporary basis while discussing with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on further assistance to them.

The Foreign Ministry has also consulted with Myanmar, the Rohingya’s country of origin, on solutions to the problem both in short and long terms, he said.

Mr Manasvi said a resolution of the Rohingya problem will not be successful unless the world community and third countries join hands.

He said the government is seriously dealing with the issue including investigating alleged human trafficking which, if confirmed, will tarnish Thailand’s reputation.

The Royal Thai Police and the Social Development and Human Security Ministry are investigating allegation that army officers are involved in human trafficking, he said. (MCOT online news)
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: The problem of the Rohingya
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2013, 12:03:47 PM »

Rohingya refugees are not a Thai problem, because heaven knows we are not equipped to handle it.

Rather, it should be a problem for Asean, if not the world. After all, when you look past skin colour, religion and nationality (or lack thereof) of these unfortunate folks, they are just human beings looking for a home.

There are two relevant issues here: the first is the allegation that there are corrupt Thai police and military officials who are complicit in the sale of these refugees to human traffickers; the second is that nobody actually wants these refugees other than human traffickers.

If the allegations of complicity among police and military officials prove true, then it is a Thai problem. No one can help us but ourselves. Given the image of Thai officials, however, I don't expect anyone to gasp in disbelief and cry out in surprise if the allegations prove true.

Shock and surprise would probably also be absent if the investigation proves to be mere window-dressing that at best unearths a couple of low-level sacrificial lambs. Then it's back to business, and life goes on. It is well acknowledged that the police are servants of politicians and members of the military are servants to their generals rather than to the Thai people.

So what chance do the Rohingya have? They aren't even Thais.

Scepticism aside - and I would very much welcome being proven wrong - but even if there's no human trafficking by Thai officials, Rohingya refugees would still be unwanted and homeless. This is simply because, as a nation, we are not equipped to even help our own, let alone strangers from foreign soils. According to the CIA World Factbook, by 2009, 8.1% of the Thai population lived below the poverty line. Most members of six major hill tribes - Akha, Lahu, Karen, Hmong/Miao, Mien/Yao and Lisu - have no national identity and live as subsistence farmers, marginalised and exploited. The same can be said of the sea gypsy population, not to mention the children begging on the streets.

These are Thai nationals, our own children, and those minority tribes who have lived here for centuries may not have the right papers, but it's a shame that we aren't equipped to help them either. How then are we to help Rohingya refugees?

That we are not equipped to help either our own marginalised people or refugees is not due to a lack of resources. Thailand is a middle-income country, one for which Forbes magazine deemed it worthy to make a list of the 40 richest Thais. This is a country where politicians are millionaires and billionaires. This is a country where we just recently launched the ever so hi-so Siam Centre Ideopolis and where first world luxuries can be had for developing world prices. This is a country where the military and the police are business corporations in and of themselves.

No, Thailand is not lacking in resources to help the marginalised and the exploited whether they are Thais, hill tribe minorities or Rohingya refugees. We don't simply because we don't care enough. This, however, does not make us unique.

The Americans build fences along their borders. The Europeans lament over the end of Western civilisation because of Muslim immigrants. Other Asean members don't want Rohingya refugees any more than we do. Each country in this region has its own ethnic and minority issues, not to mention their own populations living below the poverty line.

There was a time when Thailand and other countries around the world would take in refugees with open arms, or at least could be forced or bribed to open up. Those days are long gone. Now we just ship them off or, as alleged, sell them to human traffickers for a nice profit. Other countries can groan and moan, crying injustice and inhumanity, but they are not going to take Rohingya refugees in either, are they?

Countries are willing to take in exiled dictators, despots on the run, monarchs on the move and billionaire fugitives, but not poor Rohingya refugees.

I'm no hypocrite, but even though I have a spare bedroom, I don't plan on taking in any refugees either. Would you?

The Rohingya have been described as "one of the world's most persecuted minorities". They have also been described as "one of the world's least wanted" _ note that it's the world and not just Thailand that doesn't want them. However, we are the only ones accused of selling them to human traffickers.

Governments and human rights organisations will cry that they need help and a home. Activists and journalists will write soul-stirring articles saying that they need help and a home. Everyone will then point to everyone else and say that they are not doing enough. At the end of it we all pat ourselves on the back, feeling good that by crying and moaning we have done our bit for humanity _ come next week and a new issue, this one will be forgotten.

Hence the world rotates round and round as the human saga continues, sometimes in great glory, other times in horrible tragedy, but most of the time in ironic comedy.

Meanwhile, these refugees will stare at a "help wanted" sign in some illegal sweat shop or field of slavery somewhere where they will be forced to make a home that makes a Thai detention camp resemble a five-star luxury hotel.

Strip these unfortunate people of skin colour, religion and nationality (or lack thereof), and they are just human beings trying to find and make a home, one that is safe and has economic opportunities so that they can feed their family _ in short, the things that any of us would want.

The problem is they are not actually like "us". Poor, dark and Muslim even _ who wants them?

I can write a soul-stirring, tear-jerking and vomit-inducing column, begging and pleading out of a love for humanity. Save the Rohingya, please, save them. We must unite and lend our hands.

But then, I have a spare bedroom and a comfortable lifestyle, and I'm not inviting any refugee into my home, Rohingya or otherwise; would you? So we'll just settle for the vomit-inducing, then.

Rohingya refugees are not really the problem. They are not a Thai problem, nor are they an Asean problem nor a world problem. The world is the problem. A thousand years ago and 1,000 years from now, there has never been and never will be a place for them in a spare bedroom, except perhaps in the homes of a select few.

If you ask, as some of you often do, what is the solution, then I would ask in return: Does anyone have a solution to human self-interest, hypocrisy and apathy? Can we deny the law of survival of the fittest?

Sure we can all lend a helping hand, as long as the helping hand ushers them somewhere else. The reality is everyone may plead that Rohingya refugees need help, but nobody actually wants them _ except for human traffickers.

So in the end, we all get what we want _ except for the poor, the downtrodden and the unfortunate who will, of course, be exploited for profit by those with evil hearts, as no one else would give them a home.

The world is the problem, but we're the ones who made this world.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


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Re: Boatpeople and Modern Slavery
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2013, 12:39:42 PM »
Thailand has little history of welcoming minority groups, at least those unable to pay a speeding fine:,8599,2005706,00.html

The recently honoured and courted leader of the Burmese opposition in parliament doesn't seem to have much to say about this problem or the continuing fighting in the north of the country that regularly supplies Thailand with refugees. Perhaps she's said a lot and is calling for a solution and I've missed it all.

Offline thaiga

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Re: Thailand pushes back 200 Rohingya boat people
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2013, 12:19:21 PM »
Thailand pushes back 200 Rohingya boat people: navy

BANGKOK, Jan 30, 2013 (AFP) - Thailand's navy blocked more than 200 Rohingya boat people from entering the kingdom as part of a new crackdown on refugees from violence-hit western Myanmar, officials said Wednesday.

Thousands of Rohingya -- members of a stateless Muslim minority group described by the UN as one of the most persecuted in the world -- have fled Myanmar in recent months, mostly believed to be heading for Malaysia.

A Thai navy official in Bangkok said more than 200 Rohingya were found on Tuesday about 40 kilometres (25 miles) off the Thai mainland.

"We took them food and water before pushing them towards a third country," said the official, who did not want to be named.

Local media said the boat people were found near Raja Noi island in the Andaman Sea off Phuket province -- a magnet for foreign tourists.

National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanathabutr told AFP on Monday that Thailand would turn away any more Rohingya boat people who tried to land on its shores.

The tougher stance came after Thai authorities said they were investigating allegations that army officials were involved in the trafficking of Rohingya.

An explosion of tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine since June 2012 has triggered a huge exodus of Rohingya.

More than 1,300 members of the minority group have been detained by Thailand after landing on its shores in recent months.

Officials have said those already in Thailand will be allowed to stay for six months in detention while the government works with the UN refugee agency to find third countries willing to accept them.

Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship.

The UN estimates that about 13,000 boat people fled Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2012, with some dying during the perilous sea voyage. Thailand has been criticised in the past for pushing Rohingya back out to sea.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re:Horror at Sea: 98 Bodies Thrown Overboard
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2013, 02:25:19 PM »
Horror at Sea: 98 Bodies Thrown Overboard as Boatpeople Perish from Thirst, Starvation

PHUKET: Survivors of a Burmese deathship, saved after two months adrift, have told of throwing 98 bodies overboard as their fellow companions perished.

The 31 men and a boy who were rescued 463 kilometres from land by the Sri Lankan Navy said they originally set sail two months ago from northern Burma for Indonesia or Australia.

Instead, the suspected Rohingya found themselves languishing on the Indian Ocean, dying one by one of thirst or starvation or dehydration in a nightmare voyage.

The rescue of survivors is likely to throw into sharp media focus the core cause - Burma's ethnic cleansing of its Muslim minority Rohingya - and the lack of an international policy to stop the slaughter.

''They said they had carried food and water for only one month and they had been in the sea for two months after the ship engine stalled,'' police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody told Reuters in Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital.

''Their captain and 97 others have died due to dehydration and starvation. They also said they had thrown the dead bodies into the sea.''

Thousands of boatpeople have set out in record numbers, since October especially, to sail past Phuket to sanctuary in Malaysia, knowing that many boats sink but determined to sail because life in Burma can't get any worse.

The saga of the people rescued off Sri Lanka this week adds a new and horrible dimension of death by thirst and starvation at sea.

Most of the boats leaving from northern Burma still carry just men and boys but boats departing from further south around the troubled township of Sittwe now also carry women and children.

Two boatloads of Rohingya have fetched up off Phuket in recent weeks. The first, apprehended off southern Phuket on January 1, carried women and 10 children aged under 10.

They were taken ashore on compassionate grounds, trucked north quickly and put bach on another boat by authorities within 48 hours.

The second boatload consisting of 205 men and boys was apprehended off Racha island, south of Phuket, on Janauary 29, and ''helped on'' straight away by the Royal Thai Navy with extra water.

The word has since reached the people smuggling brokers in Burma that Thailand is no longer bringing boatpeople to shore, sticking instead to its ''help on'' policy.

India is now believed to have adopted the same policy. Australia, on the other hand, has the equivalent of a ''pushback'' policy designed to repel boatloads of queue-jumping would-be immigrants.

Thailand dropped that ''pushback'' policy in 2009 after hundreds of Rohingya perished at sea off Indonesia and India's Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Without an international approach to force Burma to end the violence against the stateless Rohingya and grant them some basic rights, the horrors at sea will continue.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: Boatpeople and Modern Slavery
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2013, 11:30:10 AM »
Mothers, children flee Myanmar on desperate voyage

Khao Lak, Thailand, Feb 25, 2013 (AFP) - Homeless, hungry and nine months pregnant, Nuru boarded a rickety boat filled with Rohingya asylum seekers fleeing a wave of deadly sectarian violence in western Myanmar.

Six days later she gave birth at sea, far from any hospitals or doctors.

Since Buddhist-Muslim tensions exploded last June in Myanmar's Rakhine State, thousands of Rohingya boat people -- including a growing number of women and children -- have joined an exodus from the former junta-ruled country.

Those who arrived in neighbouring Thailand have been "helped on" by the Thai navy towards Malaysia further south or detained as illegal immigrants.

Hundreds are feared to have drowned along the way while others were rescued as far away as Sri Lanka.

Denied citizenship by Myanmar, where they have suffered decades of discrimination and persecution, they left behind a country where they were never wanted -- only to find they are unwelcome elsewhere.

"After my house was burned down I had nowhere to live and no job," Nuru, 24, told AFP at a government-run shelter in southern Thailand, cradling her month-old baby boy in her arms.

Even though she was on the verge of giving birth, Nuru decided to make the long and dangerous journey in the hope of reaching Malaysia.

After just a few days at sea, the food and water ran out.

"We had to drink sea water and we got diarrhea," said Nuru.

Some fishermen took pity on them and gave them water, fish and fuel.

Finally, two weeks after leaving Rakhine, their flimsy vessel reached an island off Thailand's Andaman Coast after a near 1,500 kilometre (900 miles) journey.

But their ordeal was not yet over.

The men were separated from their families and sent to detention centres, while the women and children were confined to the shelter in Khao Lak, a popular beach resort just north of the tourist magnet of Phuket.

"They looked terrible. Some of the children drank sea water and had diarrhea. They vomited and it was full of worms. They looked very scared and upset," said a worker at the shelter, which houses about 70 women and children.

"The journey was very difficult for the pregnant women. They must have been really suffering to come here," said the shelter worker, who did not want to be named.

Some children even made the dangerous journey alone without any relatives, leaving behind a country where they were born and raised -- but viewed by the Burmese majority as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

"My father is disabled so I need to go to Malaysia. I have relatives -- an uncle -- in Malaysia," said Abdul Azim, 12, whose home was burned and mother killed in the Rakhine unrest.

The boy, whose name AFP has changed to protect his identity, is one of about 1,700 Rohingya -- including more than 300 women and children -- detained by Thailand in recent months.

"These people are desperate and that's why we see not just men and boys but now also women and small children fleeing as well," said Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director at New York-based Human Rights Watch.

"It's something that indicates that there is a very, very serious problem in Arakan (Rakhine) state that the government of Burma needs to attend to urgently."

Officials say those already in Thailand will be kept for six months in detention while the government works with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to try to find other countries willing to accept them.

"Thailand itself cannot carry the burden," said Thai foreign ministry official Manasvi Srisodapol.

"We don't want them to risk danger every year travelling at the sea like this, so we'd like to see a better environment for them in their country of origin."

At one detention centre in Phang Nga near Phuket, 275 Rohingya men are held in crowded conditions, denied access to their families. Some have been treated for illnesses including malaria, chickenpox and tuberculosis.

One detainee whispered through the bars to a visiting AFP journalist that the men hoped to go to America or Malaysia.

Hundreds of others have been blocked by the Thai navy from entering the kingdom as part of a new crackdown that began after allegations emerged that Thai army officials were involved in the trafficking of Rohingya.

In Myanmar, more than 100,000 people have been displaced by the Rakhine clashes, which have overshadowed a series of widely praised political reforms by a nominally civilian government which took office in early 2011.

The government says about 180 people have been killed, but activists fear the real death toll is much higher.

Myanmar's population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya -- described by the UN as one of the most persecuted minorities on the planet -- face travel restrictions, forced labour and limited access to healthcare and education.

Bangladesh used to be the destination of choice for those fleeing the country, but it has since closed its border to the Rohingya.

Now many want to go to Muslim Malaysia, where the UNHCR has already registered almost 25,000 Rohingya, although community leaders estimate actual number could be double that.

Malaysia largely turns a blind eye, allowing them into the country but denying them any sort of legal status that would allow access to healthcare, education, jobs, and other services, activists say.

The UN estimates that last year about 13,000 boat people fled Myanmar and Bangladesh. Few who reach Thailand want to stay permanently, preferring to join relatives elsewhere.

"I'm not happy here. I will be happy if I can go Malaysia," said Abdul Azim.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


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Re: Boatpeople and Modern Slavery
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2013, 02:00:21 PM »
I don't understand the authorities' treatment of boat people from Burma. Refugees from across the border up north have been accommodated in refugee camps for years.

Offline thaiga

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Re: No-Name Baby Has Nothing Except Hope
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2013, 03:18:43 PM »
PHUKET: She has no name. And her birth in a Phuket hospital this week made her a part of a stateless community who have no homes, and no real future.

The new-born baby, part of a boatpeople community who have nothing

Within 24 hours of entering the world, this newborn's mother even offered to gift her to Phuketwan in the hope that we could give her a better chance in life.

As a Rohingya, persecuted in Burma, unwanted in Thailand and largely ignored by the rest of the world, this daughter of the 21st Century has nothing.

In that regard, she is just like her parents and her extended community. They also have nothing. Torched from their homes, all they possess are the clothes they wear.

When heavily pregnant Rorbeena Bakum, 25, boarded the flimsy boat to flee Burma, she took with her precisely nothing.

It was the same with the other 106 on board, who included 15 members of her family. A desperate voyage into the unknown, they decided, was better than life in Burma.

Off the coast, within days of arriving in Thailand north of Phuket, Rorbeena assisted at the birth of a boy on the boat.

As a heavy shower lashed the small vessel, she and the mother-to-be were ushered under a tarpaulin for the birth. With more than 100 onlookers on a wild and storm-tossed sea, it must have been quite an arrival.

Had that been Rorbeena on the boat's rough decking, she and her baby would not have survived. She needed a C-section and extra blood when her no-name daughter was delivered this week at Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket City.

Rorbeena was brought alone to the Phuket public hospital from the family refuge north of Phuket where she and more than 70 Rohingya women and children are being detained.

No family members were allowed to travel with her. Her husband remained detained in Phang Nga Immigration centre, where 273 men are being confined in overcrowded conditions.

Birthing conditions at Vachira Phuket are basic but this week's delivery went well. Hospital authorities eventually agreed to provide Rorbeena with all the post-natal medical care she needed, regardless of cost.

Within a day or so, she and her firstborn will be returned to the Phang Nga family shelter, swelling numbers there from 72 to 73.

More than 1800 Rohingya are being held in detention across Thailand, with boats that recently arrived on Phuket and at Takuapa, to Phuket's north, making accommodation even more crowded.

No word has been heard of a third boat, containing more than 60 passengers, and it was probably lost at sea. That's the risk all Rohingya take in fleeing what they consider to be an even more certain death in Burma.

On Phuket, 29 women and children are being held at a family shelter to the east of Phuket City. Thirty-eight men are confined in grim conditions at Phuket Immigration headquarters in Phuket City.

Another 35 men have been trucked to Immigration in the port township of Ranong, on the border between Thailand and Burma.

Ranong Immigration is where two teenage Rohingya died in custody in 2009, and where survivors hobbled out crippled and bent after a six-month incarceration.

The hundreds of Rohingya being held in Thailand now are supposed to be having their status and their future considered, to be decided by the Thai Government with advice from NGOs, before the end of July.

However, usually reliable sources have told Phuketwan that the Rohingya can expect to be held captive in Thailand for at least a year, perhaps longer.

As with the detention of a boatload of Rohingya men between 2009 and 2011, holding the unwanted arrivals in captivity for a long period clearly sends the message that Thailand's military wants to send.

Prolonged detention in Thailand warns Burma's outcasts: you are not wanted here. Land in Thailand and you will suffer.

More than 25,000 passengers are reported to have departed Burma in this latest ''sailing season'' between October and April, fleeing brutality, and hundreds have come ashore along the Andaman coast on their way to Malaysia.

The governments of Thailand and Burma's Asean neighbors choose to deal with the concequences of Burma's repression rather than push their racist neighbor to become more tolerant.

For those who have nothing, there is little to do except wait and hope.

THE FAMILY refuges in Phuket and Phang Nga are asking for baby supplies, eggs, halal food, cooking oil, any basics that can help to sustain the Rohingya women and children.

Phuket shelter
11 Sakdidat Rd., Talad Nur, Muang, Phuket

Phang Nga shelter
560/122 Moo 5, Khukkhak, Takuapa.
Contact Khun Boo: 089 9736134.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.