Thai authorities shocking mistreatment of refugees

16 Jan

This shocking report from the BBC, Thais ‘leave boat people to die‘, needs a proper investigation.

Thai navy)

Thailand has been accused of mistreating the illegal immigrants (Photo: Thai navy)

According to the refugees, Thai soldiers tied up their hands before putting them into boats without engines. They were then towed into open oceans by motorised boats and ‘left to drift’ without food and water. Another group of 400 survivors who were rescued by the same Indian coast guards said they were given a better treatment – they were given ‘only two bags of rice and two drums of drinking water’.

These refugees are purportedly from Burma and Bangladesh who were trying to enter South East Asia in search of work.

This is not the first instance of Thailand’s ill-treatment of refugees.

Last July, Human Rights Watch issued statements urging the authorities to stop deporting Karen and Hmong refugees back to Burma and Laos.

With regards to the Karen refugees, local Thai paramilitary forces gathered 52 of them from two refugee camps in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province, along the Burma border on 17 July last year. 35 of them were then deported back to Burma. This is despite the fact that the Thai authorities are aware that the Karens face possible violence and human rights violations from the military regime.

A similar tactic was used on Hmong refugees.  According to the HRW statement, more than 5,000 of the 8,000 Hmong camp residents who protested at the Huay Nam Khao refugee camp in Phetchabun province, Thailand, against the deportations of other Hmong asylum seekers and refugees, were stopped in their march. After being held overnight without food or water, as many as 837 of them were ‘forcibly returned’ to Laos the day after. Hmong asylum seekers face possible harsh treatment upon return to Laos.

According to the human rights organisation,  Laos is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is therefore forbidden to subject Hmongs to ‘arbitrary detention, torture, or other forms of inhuman and degrading abuse, all abuses which are completely prohibited under customary international law as well’.

The Thai government, under the principle of non-refoulement, is also prohibited from forcing the return of asylum seekers and refugees to countries where their lives could be harmed or threatened.

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