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    Rohingya Dies in Thai Hospital, Crowded Conditions Threaten Others

    Captured Rohingya at
    a Phuket police station awaiting detention
    Photo by

    March 22, 2013
    By Alan Morison and
    Chutima Sidasathian
    PHUKET: A Rohingya
    man has died while in the care of Thai authorities, hospital sources confirmed
    The man, identified
    as Muhamad Usen, aged about 30, was taken from the Immigration facility in
    Sadao, where he was being held, to Had Yai Hospital on March 18.
    He died the next day,
    the source said. On Wednesday, his body was handed over to local Muslims for
    burial. It is believed he came from the troubled township of Sittwe, in Burma.
    The man was not
    recorded as a Rohingya, but as a ”Burmese Muslim.” This bureaucratic lie is
    an indication that Thai authorities now support the Burmese Government’s racist
    contention that Rohingya do not exist as a separate ethnic group.
    Another source told
    Phuketwan that the man’s death was related to untreated injuries inflicted by
    people-traffickers while he was being held in a secret camp near the
    Thai-Malaysia border.
    According to the
    source, several other men with severe injuries from traffickers are being held
    in Sadao Immigration. They have yet to be seen by a doctor, the source said.
    More deaths in
    custody are feared. Hundreds of Rohingya men are being held in overcrowded
    conditions at Immigration centres around Thailand.
    Conditions are
    reported to be especially bad for 270 men confined in an overcrowded space at
    Phang Nga Immigration centre, north of Phuket.
    The men are among
    about 1700 Rohingya who were either ”rescued” from smugglers’ camps or
    arrived in Thailand on flimsy boats in January.
    About 300 women and
    children are part of the groups and are being held in slightly better
    conditions at family welfare refuges.
    However, at least six
    boys are known to have fled from a family centre in Phang Nga, north of Phuket
    – probably with the help of local people-traffickers.
    Thailand’s Government
    has undertaken to hold the Rohingya for up to six months to assess their status
    and determine their futures, working with the United Nations High Commissioner
    for Refugees and NGOs.
    Reports relayed from
    the captive Rohingya indicate they are growing increasingly frustrated as the
    weeks pass. Their aim remains to travel on from Thailand to Malaysia, where
    some have family or friends waiting.
    Three boatloads of
    Rohingya are reported to have arrived in Malaysia in the past 10 days.
    Record numbers of
    Rohingya have been ”helped on” towards Malaysia since October by the Thai
    military as Burmese authorities continue to tacitly support ethnic cleansing by
    local Buddhists in Rakhine state.