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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.