Monday, January 26, 2009

More proof refugee boats towed to sea

PRESSURE mounted on Thailand today to come clean on allegations the army towed Rohingya refugees out to sea and abandoned them in engine-less boats, after CNN showed pictures depicting exactly that.

The Rohingyas are Muslims from northwest Burma.

Many have fled the Bhuddist-dominated, military-ruled country, where they say they face repression and economic hardship.

The cable news channel also interviewed a Rohingya man captured by a civilian militia on one remote Thai island in the Andaman Sea, who said he had been on one of six refugee boats that arrived in December.

The boats were towed back out to sea in January but five of them sank, the visibly distressed man said in a mixture of broken English and sign language.

"All men ... dead," said the man, identified as Iqbal Hussein, corroborating other survivors' reports of boats cut adrift without engines and hundreds of migrants left to die.

The Government's chief spokesman declined immediate comment, saying all questions should be directed to the Foreign Ministry.

Rohingya rights groups and survivors who washed up on India's Andaman Islands and Aceh in Indonesia in the last four weeks say 992 migrants were towed out in two separate episodes in December.

Of the 992, 550 are thought to be missing, feared drowned.

The army colonel at the centre of the abuse allegations has denied any wrongdoing, and said the migrants were given food and water and helped on their way after Thai villagers repaired their boats.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has promised a full investigation, but has also issued on behalf of the military a blanket denial of any abuse.

As a result of decades of persecution, more than 230,000 Rohingyas have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, according to the UN refugee agency.

Tens of thousands more have fled, normally in rickety wooden boats,
in search of a better life elsewhere.

Many have ended up in Malaysia.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too