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Kidnapped and Raped, One Rohingya Woman Fights Back Against Traffickers in Thailand

The man accused of raping a Rohingya woman being sheltered in Thailand Photo by phuketwan.com

By Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison
June 18, 2013

PHUKET: A man confessed tonight to raping a Rohingya woman who escaped from a shelter north of Phuket with the intention of taking her two children to join her husband in Malaysia. 

Instead, the woman became embroiled in the local people trafficking network that highlights just what a person is worth and how kin will abuse each other for money. 

Most of the women and children who have absconded from shelters in Phang Nga and on Phuket have gone over the wall with the intention of joining family in Malaysia.

The case of Mrs X, as we shall call her, shows how difficult it is to know who to trust and how the arrival of more and more Rohingya along Thailand’s coast has corrupted some local police and made some local traffickers rich. 

Often, the traffickers have turned out to be people that the Rohingya, escaping repression and ethnic cleansing in Burma, thought they could trust. 

On Wednesday morning Mrs X is due at Kuraburi Police Station, north of Phuket, to make a statement against Rohingya Korlimula Ramahatu, 26, who has been living in Thailand for some time. 

Late tonight he confessed to abducting Mrs X and raping her repeatedly over three nights.

The men who allegedly helped Korlimula kidnap Mrs X, her children and two other women, are an off-duty policeman and a white-haired man who has allegedly been heavily involved in people trafficking. 

For now, they remain free. 

Mrs X returned to the shelter today after her ordeal came to an end, hugging her children and other women who all have some sense of what she has been through. 

It was the white-haired man who, because he spoke Bengali, was able to gain entry to the Phang Nga shelter soon after the group of about 70 Rohingya women and children arrived there in January.

He probably used his access to entice some boys to go over the fence and to pay him for helping to transfer them in the direction of Malaysia.

The going price for a trip across the border remains much the same as it was before Thailand ”rescued” about 2000 Rohingya from border trafficking camps and off flimsy boats in January: about 50,000 baht.

Mrs X and two other women at the shelter wanted to get to Malaysia – Mrs X has a husband waiting – so the three women and Mrs X’s two children absconded after dark on May 27 after negotiations with the white-haired man. 

At the wheel of the utility was a person Mrs X recognised as a local off-duty policeman. With him in the cabin was Korlimula Ramahatu.

The pickup took them north from the Phang Nga shelter on the road through Takuapa, then on to somewhere isolated, possibly close to Kuraburi, where the women and children were left in a hut. 

Korlimula Ramahatu came regularly to feed them. On June 7, the two other women were taken to another hut. 

According to Mrs X, Ramahatu kept her prisoner with her children and came back to rape her on June 7, June 8 and June 9. On the following three nights, she fought back and refused to be abused, she later told police. 

The two other women in the meantime are believed to have been returned to the Phang Nga shelter while Mrs X and her children were later dumped by a roadside in the Kuraburi district. 

Since then, she has been charged with absconding from the shelter. And – after much persuading – police have arrested Korlimula Ramahatu and charged him with rape.

As of tonight, he had confessed and was to be formally arraigned tomorrow, after Mrs X makes her statement. 

When Mrs X goes to Kuraburi Police Station she will be able to explain the role of the off-duty policeman and the white-haired man. 

Other Rohingya women have said they have already paid the white-haired man 10,000 baht in one case and 20,000 baht in another. But the cost of being smuggled to Malaysia remains 50,000 baht. 

The Andaman coast north of Phuket has become a marketplace for people traffickers with the sailing across the Andaman Sea from Burma of thousands of Rohingya fleeing persecution. 

Police and the military – as well as Rohingya with contacts in Thailand – stand accused of playing leading roles in the abhorrent trade.