minority children look out through a window of a bus after they were
rescued by Thai authorities in Songkhla province, southern Thailand
on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. Nearly 700 boat people from Myanmar’s
beleaguered Rohingya minority were rescued from alleged human
traffickers in two separate raids near Thailand’s southern border,
Thai authorities said Friday. (AP Photo/Sumeth Panpetch)
authorities said Friday that about 700 people from Myanmar’s
beleaguered Rohingya minority who had entered Thailand illegally were
found in two separate raids in the country’s south and that they
would be sent back to Myanmar.
and government officials found 307 Rohingya asylum seekers during a
search Friday at a warehouse in Sadao district in Songkhla province,
police Maj. Col. Thanusin Duangkaewngam said. On Thursday, nearly 400
Rohingya were found in a raid in the same district.
Rohingya said they had voluntarily entered Thailand to travel to a
third country,” Thanusin said of Friday’s raid. “Police
will have to expand the investigation to the group of people who
brought these Rohingya people in, as it is illegal entry.”
violence in Myanmar involving the Rohingya has left hundreds dead and
many more homeless in recent months.
said the refugees found in Friday’s raid, including 230 men, 31
women, 22 boys and 24 girls, would be repatriated to Myanmar, also
known as Burma.
rights activists have called for the Thai government not to deport
the Rohingya back to Myanmar, where they face widespread
Thursday, about 50 security officers from a joint military-police
task force raided crowded makeshift shelters on a rubber plantation
in Sadao district and rescued 397 Rohingya.
were children and women in the group who appeared to be exhausted and
were crammed under the metal-sheet roof, said army Col. Jaran
Iamthanon, who led the raid. He said some of the Rohingya attempted
to flee by running into the mountains.
arrested eight suspects in Thursday’s raid who were believed to be
traffickers and confiscated a pistol, a sword, 10 mobile phones
and a laptop, police Col. Kriskorn Pleetanyawong said. The men _ six
from Myanmar, including two Rohingya, and two Thais _ face charges of
bringing in and sheltering illegal immigrants, as well as illegal
possession of a gun, he said.
said investigators would question two other suspects, one of whom is
a local politician who owned the land on which the migrants were
initial investigation into Thursday’s raid showed the refugees had
been held at the location for nearly three months while waiting to be
sent to Malaysia to work as fishermen. Authorities said the
trafficking network sold
them for 60,000 to 70,000 baht ($1,975 to $2,304) per person.
was unclear whether human traffickers were involved with the group in
Friday’s raid, and police said they were investigating.
migrants in both raids were being held at police stations across
Songkhla province awaiting repatriation to Myanmar.
United Nations estimates the Rohingya population in Myanmar at
800,000, but the government does not recognize them as one of the
country’s 135 ethnic groups, and most are denied citizenship.
speak a Bengali dialect and resemble Muslim Bangladeshis, with darker
skin than most people in Myanmar. They are widely regarded as illegal
immigrants from Bangladesh and are heavily discriminated against, but
Bangladesh also refuses to accept them as citizens.
week, Thai authorities deported back to Myanmar 73 Rohingya who were
found adrift on a boat off a Thai resort island.