Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rohingya victims of Thai Navy saved

The Guardian reports on the discovery offshore Ache Indonesia of another boatload of Rohingyans cast adrift at sea:

"Fishermen found a wooden boat without an engine drifting in the sea with 198 Myanmar [Burmese] migrants," said the Indonesian navy officer Tedi Sutardi. "They said the Thai authorities towed them out to sea and set them adrift.

"Their boat was small. It's only 12m [40ft] long and 3m wide. It had almost come apart and was held together with ropes. They were standing in the boat for 21 days because there was no space to sit. It's a miracle they survived."

According to Sutardi, the survivors recounted beatings by the Thai security forces after their arrest for illegal entry.

Are there more victims at sea that Thailand has not told anyone about? Search parties may need to be sent out. The international community should demand that Thailand provide a full account of how many boatloads of Rohingya refugee migrants have been set adrift.

This week the Economist suggested that joint US-Thai military exercises -- the annual Cobra Gold war games-- be called off on the grounds that Thailand has not shown sufficient regard for human rights over the past year. The newsweekly also cited the recent string of lese majeste charges (the outrageous Thai law´s most recent victims include a British journalist, a Thai scholar, and an Australian writer). The magazine explained that calling off the war games would impact the Thai military -- the organization most directly implicated in the abuse and killing of the Rohingyan refugees.

H-tip J-P

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