“Thai PM Agreed On Its Officials Abused The Rights Of Rohingya Boat People

source fromirrawaddy news, 13 Feb 2009

The prime minister of Thailand acknowledged the possibility that Thai officials abused the rights of Rohingya boat people who were towed out to sea and set adrift with inadequate food and water, in an interview with CNN on Thursday.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that he didn’t know who was responsible for the acts but if presented with evidence, he will hold them responsible. Government policy does not condone such practices, he said, and there are “some instances” which are suspect.

Thai officials consistently downplayed the allegations made by human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Refugees International, which claim that the Thai navy abused the human rights of Rohingya boat people, including beatings and other abuse, and towed their boats back out to sea and set them adrift without adequate food and water in boats without engines.

Meanwhile, the Thai government is trying to defend the country’s reputation as a protector of human rights in the face of widespread international attention.

Army Chief General Anupong Paochinda was quoted by the Thai News Agency that in a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) on Wednesday, the Thai foreign ministry and security agencies agreed that the foreign ministry should seek cooperation from regional countries in order to find a solution to the Rohingya boat people issue.

Prime Minister Abhisit urged four countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma and Thailand to work together on a common solution.

Gen Anupong will visit Burma next week to talk with Burmese military leaders about the issue. Burmese officials claim the Rohingya are not citizens of Burma and are not a recognized ethnic group in the country.

Thai Supreme Commander Gen Songkitti Jaggabat visited Burma last month and met with Burma’s No 2 leader, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye. He said Maung Aye promised him that the Burmese authorities would try to block Rohingya refugees who try to leave illegally for other countries.

Meanwhile, Burma has deployed more navy patrol boats in order to block Rohingya who take to the sea in rickety boats, desperate to reach other countries.

The Thai government and the the UN commission on refugees met last week to hold talks about how to address the Rohingya boat people issue.

The Rohingya issue is likely to be addressed during a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit on February 27 in Hua Hin in southern Thailand.




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