Phuket Rohingya Boatpeople ‘Vanish’ from Phang Nga

Phuket Wan, March 7, 2011

THE UN’S REFUGEE agency is looking into the whereabouts of 35 Rohingya who appear to have been transferred from a detention centre in Phang Nga, north of Phuket, in clandestine circumstances.

”We would be very concerned if they have been transferred without UNHCR being notified,” said Kitty McKinsey, spokesperson for theofficof the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Asia.
The 35 men and boys were among 68 would-be Rohingya refugees on a boat that landed near a five-star resort on the tourist island of Phuket in darkness on January 31.

The men and boys – some as young as 12 – were rounded up the following day and held together for a time in cells at Immigration headquarters on Phuket.

Lack of sufficient space in the Phuket cells forced officials to transfer 35 boys and men to the Immigration centre in Phang Nga, a Thai province that borders Phuket.

Soon after, Phuketwan was told that Phang Nga Immigration officials sought to have the group deported to Burma through the Mae Sot border crossing, complaining about the high cost of feeding the group two meals a day.

At the weekend Phuketwan called the Phang Nga Immigration centre to check on the wellbeing of the 35 Rohingya being held there. A spokesperson said: ”We don’t have Rohingya here, only Burmese.”

As a stateless and persecuted people, the Muslim Rohingya have lived in Burma for 400 years but are denied citizenship. Illegal Burmese workers are frequently arrested and transferred to the Thai-Burma border through both Phuket and Phang Nga Immigration centres.

Phuket Immigration was able to confirm that 33 men and boys from the Phuket boatload of 68 Rohingya are still being held on Phuket.

However a reliable independent source told Phuketwan that the 35 who had been sent on to Phang Nga appear to no longer be held there.

It is thought the 35 were sent on last week from Phang Nga to the Thai-Burma town of Mae Sot – which could mean they are now either in detention in a refugee camp as Rohingya, or as ”Burmese” illegal immigrants have been processed and sent across the Burma border into considerable danger, given their lack of citizenship.

As Thailand declines to accept that the Rohingya are candidates for refugee status, the second outcome is more likely. At this stage, the UNHCR is not prepared to speculate.

Spokesperson Ms McKinsey told Phuketwan: ”We are looking into where the 35 Rohingya are.”

A UNHCR team was given permission to interview passengers from two of the three Rohingya boats that landed in Thailand in January. As well as the groups being held in Phuket and Phang Nga, 67 from the second boatload were being held in Songkhla, another southern province.

However the 91 men and boys on board the first of three vessels to arrive in Thailand in January were deported, Thai authorities acknowledge, in circumstances that have yet to be fully explained.

Coincidentally, days later a boatload of 91 men and boys landed 700 kilometres across the Indian Ocean, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands protectorate.

Dehydrated and starving, some of the 91 required treatment in hospital. The BBC has since reported that the boatload are Rohingya. Although weeks have passed, there has been no confirmation from the Indian government of their identities or background.

The Indonesian government has also not clarified the identities of a larger boatload of more than 120 that has since arrived in Aceh province.

Two years ago, the Thai government was criticised for committing human rights abuses in covertly pushing out to sea hundreds of Rohingya on barely seaworthy boats without power, and with little food and water. It is believed hundreds of those men and boys perished at sea.

The Rohingya who were being held in Phang Nga:

1. Mortora, 15
2. O-Limmot, 23
3. Mamonlo, 20
4. Salerm, 15
5. A-Lumongla, 20
6. Duban, 14
7. Nudama, 19
8. Mohomut, 18
9. Choobut, 20
10. Tuehad, 21
11. Au-Sall, 12
12. Ab-dullchuku, 18
13. Ab-dull-luhim, 16
14. Kaman, 15
15. A-dull-laman, 28
16. Nonmuhamut, 19
17. Lawfit, 35
18. Sofi, 16
19. A-deesoha, 34
20. Aubdullsalam, 45
21. Noot-Asom, 16
22. Adfa, 20
23. Soni, 25
24. Sosi, 50
25. Ropik, 30
26. Elird, 25
27. Dinmuhamut, 18
28. Amen, 20
29. Fuson, 18
30. Soyak, 18
31. Abdull-Dullli, 30
32. Adullsalam, 30
33. Nutwasa, 12
34. Rositdallla, 35
35. Rollfit, 30

The Rohingya being held on Phuket:

1. Pasula, 20
2. Muhamutlufit, 15
3. Chonchuhalam, 20
4. Zube, 19
5. Zalabut, 17
6. Muhamuthussen, 20
7. Muhamutzube, 17
8. Roiboonler, 16
9. Seahunhak, 17
10. Onamean, 24
11. Chaiyadullla,17
12. Nason, 16
13. Fayasonla, 17
14. Zifuaman, 17
15. Muhamutzulaiban, 20
16. Muhamutyasem, 16
17. Muhamutnaseen, 14
18. Muhamutlerfit, 15
19. Chaiyathalam, 20
20. Isdalis, 18
21. Ayamumla, 16
22. Muhutmutamean, 28
23. Muhamutlerfit, 17
24. Muhamut-Elist, 14
25. Kareanmomla, 16
26. Muhamutayob, 17
27. Muhamuteamran, 16
28. Jomeananut, 20
29. Muhamutjaman, 17
30. Zontalamut, 40
31. Soidalam, 21
32. Hasimonla,30
33. Muhammutyasean, 28

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