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Thai policeman arrested as key suspect in human trafficking of Rohingya

Jack Burton



Police have arrested a man who they believe has trafficked at least 200 Rohingya refugees into Thailand on their way to Malaysia.

56 year old Charin Chuenchom was arrested over the weekend at a house in Ratchaburi, east of Bangkok. Chanin consequently confessed and was handed over to authorities for prosecution

The Rohingya are a stateless, mainly Muslim ethnic group living in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. They are not permitted to hold Burmese citizenship and have faced historical persecution culminating in the August 2017 attacks on them by the Burmese army (Tatmadaw). There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya in Myanmar before the 2016–17 crisis in which many fled, many by sea and others as refugees crossing the northern border into Bangladesh.

Thailand does not recognise Rohingya as refugees and in the past has arrested, detained and deported them back to Myanmar.

In 2013 the UN described the Rohingya as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, comparing their conditions to apartheid and accusing the Tatmadaw of “genocide”.

Police believe Chanin was a key player in a human trafficking gang, including a former railway policeman, illegally moving Rohingya people out of Myanmar through Thailand to Malaysia. The Bangkok Post reports that they charged each migrant 12,000 baht for ‘safe’ passage to Malaysia.

“We believe the gang have smuggled Rohingya people into Thailand more than 20 times, with 10-15 people each time, and collected more than 4 million baht,” police told Bangkok Post.

Authorities arrested 14 Rohingya migrants and two Thai smugglers on a train in Nakhon Si Thammarat in January last year. They suspect Chanin used stolen identities to buy their train tickets. He’s been charged with smuggling migrants and human trafficking.

The train was headed for the Thai-Malaysian border. The migrants were extremely hungry as they had no food and only a little drinking water.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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