After Burma Violence, Almost 6,000 Rohingyas Arrive in Thailand

A Rohingya refugee sits surrounded by well-wishers at a house in the capital of southern Thailand’s Pattani Province. (Photo: Joe Jackson / The Irrawaddy)

BANGKOK — Nearly 6,000 Rohingya Muslims have arrived in Thailand since October, when sectarian violence flared in Burma’s western Arakan State and displaced tens of thousands of people, a top Thai security agency said on Thursday.

Entire communities of Rohingyas are languishing in makeshift camps in Burma, without access to healthcare or clean water, according to the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) aid group, while Thailand has promised humane treatment for the 5,899 who have arrived on its shores.

“Those detained will continue to be treated as illegal and given only basic care in line with humanitarian practices,” said Dittaporn Sasamit, a spokesman for Thailand’s Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC).

“The Foreign Ministry is negotiating with other countries to take them on and is seeking [Burmese] citizenship papers for them so they can move on,” he said.

Burma’s reformist government has been criticized for its treatment of Rohingyas and its poor handling of clashes with ethnic Arakanese Buddhists in June and October. The Rohingyas came off worst in a statewide spree of machete and arson attacks.

Many Rohingyas arrived in predominantly Buddhist Burma as laborers from what is now Bangladesh under British rule in the 19th century, grounds the government uses to deny them citizenship.

Most of the estimated 800,000 Rohingyas in Burma are regarded by authorities as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which does not recognize them either. The United Nations has referred to them as “virtually friendless.”

Thousands of Rohingyas flee from Burma each year on rickety boats seeking refuge and jobs in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, but the number has swelled since the unrest.

MSF said its relief work was being hindered by accusations of bias in favor of the Rohingyas.

“Repeated threats and intimidation by a small but vocal group within the [Arakanese] community have severely impacted on our ability to deliver lifesaving medical care,” MSF General Director Arjan Hehenkamp said in a statement.

Britain’s Parliament on Tuesday backed a motion calling for the UN-mandated observers in Arakan State.

Rights groups have often criticized Thailand for its handling of Rohingya migrants and its deportation process, which leaves many illegal immigrants open to abuse by authorities.

Thai security forces discovered almost 1,400 Rohingyas during raids in the south of the country last month and 1,752 have been detained for unlawful entry.

More boats are expected to sail from Burma in the coming months, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

3 Responses to After Burma Violence, Almost 6,000 Rohingyas Arrive in Thailand

  1. These Bengali lived in Rakhine State for the last many years illegally but the Rakhines tolerated them until a Rakhine young woman was raped and killed. Now, they are crying like the victims. Burma is not their homeland. Thailand is not their homeland either. The Bengali started migrating to Malaysia since years ago. Thailand is not their final destination but just transit place to reach Malaysia. Peoples of the world better not to blame Burma for their migration to Malaysia. I wish these NGOs and governments who cry with these Bengali receive them and allow them to live in their neighborhoods, they will find it out whether they can bear the cruel behavior of these Bengali people in a few months, not years.

    • your comments, bears hatred towards the Rohingya of Arakan state,what you have to understand they were there even before the British colonial era. They are the Rohingya ethnic group of Burma,they lived there just like any other ethnic group for many hundred of years,they are not bengalis as you labeled them.Bengalis have their own homeland, name Bangladesh,Bengalis are proud people they struggled and fought against tyrants,like you still have your Burmese military junta but it seems you cant free yourselves from the clutches of your masters.
      Your historical perspective about migration is wrong,migration is as old as dawn of mankind we all have migrated from one country to another throughout generations.we took over lands often uninhabited if not by force and named it after the Tribe like it or not,just because might is right.Blaming a group of people is unfair and wrong,it is the government of that country you ought to blame,because it is they who play this dirty politics,mind game,manipulation for their own ends,in the meantime we fight amongst ourselves and that precisely what they want.If you analyze the roots of the cause you will then be able to see it is the military junta who embedded this strife and devide and rule policy in the first place,so they can continue their rule as they planned.I think as soon as they [both sides] understand this cleverly designed conspiracy,it is better for them and the country as a whole and that responsibility is yours and mine to promote.

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