Connect with us

Phuket

Human Rights Watch calls for probe into alleged Rohingya shootings

Published

 on 

PHUKET: New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) today issued a statement calling for the Thai authorities to investigate reports of Royal Thai Navy sailors opening fire on a boatload of Rohingya off the Phang Nga coast, north of Phuket, allegedly killing at least two of the refugees.

“Rohingya fleeing Burma should be given protection, not shot at,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The Thai government should urgently investigate why sailors opened fire on boat people helpless in the sea and prosecute all those found responsible.”

According to the press release, survivors of the incident told HRW that on the morning of February 20, Thai fishermen helped their drifting boat ashore on Surin Island off the coast of Phang Nga province.

On that same day, at about 6:30pm, Thai navy patrol boat TOR214 arrived at the island and towed their boat back to sea. The patrol boat and the Rohingya boat arrived near a pier in Kuraburi district, Phang Nga, at around 5am the next day.

According to the survivors and Thai villagers on the shore, navy personnel from the patrol boat began to divide the Rohingya into small groups in the boat and ordered them to get ready to board smaller boats.

At that point, the Rohingya became uncertain whether they would be taken to immigration detention on the mainland or be pushed back to sea. When the first group of 20 Rohingya was put on a smaller boat by the Thai navy, some panicked and jumped overboard, said the report.

“Navy personnel fired into the air three times and told us not to move,” one survivor told Human Rights Watch. “But we were panicking and jumped off the boat, and then they opened fire on us in the water.”

Four Rohingya who swam to shore were rescued by local Thai villagers. Thai security forces searched the area for two days after the incident, but the villagers kept the survivors hidden.

The bodies of two Rohingya reportedly showing bullet wounds were later pulled from the sea and buried in a Muslim cemetery in Kuraburi district, said HRW.

Thai fishermen told Human Rights Watch they saw more dead bodies in the water but had no more information. The fate of the remaining passengers on the boat remains unknown after it was towed away by the Thai navy.

Human Rights Watch called on the Thai government and the National Human Rights Commission to conduct thorough and transparent investigations into the shooting. If unnecessary or excessive force is found to have been used, all those responsible, including officers who gave orders to fire, should be prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said.

“Whenever the use of force is unavoidable, they must use restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense. The intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” said the press release

DENIAL

Vice Admiral Taratorn Kajitsuwan, Commander of the Third Naval Area, who is responsible for all naval operations along the Andaman coast declined to comment on the story to the Phuket Gazette.

One media report quoted him as saying that he refused to comment because the story only served to “tarnish the reputation of the Royal Thai Navy”.

ABC News in Australia reported receiving a statement from Vice Admiral Taratorn denying that navy sailors opened fire on the refugees.

Likewise, one of the top-ranking officers at the Kuraburi District Police declined to comment in detail about the incident, saying, “I am aware of this story. It is only a rumor to discredit Thai officers. There was no such shooting.”

The officer, who asked not to be identified, did not disclose how he became aware of the story. He also offered no explanation as to what investigation – if any – had proved the rumors to be untrue.

Surin National Park Chief Rattanachart Noikondee told the Gazette he received no reports from park rangers or from villagers living within the park of any shootings.

Phang Nga MP Kantawan Tanthien, quoted by one news report as recently as Monday confirming that the shooting took place, today was unavailable to confirm the report to the Gazette.

MP Kantawan would be “unavailable for days to come”, the Gazette was told.

BODIES

However, the senior Kuraburi District Police officer the Gazette spoke to did confirm that two bodies were pulled from the water in the same area at about the same time as the alleged naval shootings.

The condition of the bodies made it impossible for police to determine whether or not the men were shot, said the officer.

“In fact, we are not sure if the bodies were Rohingya or Burmese fishing boat crew,” he said.

The bodies were sent to Kuraburi Chaipat Hospital for further examination. Hospital staff there told the Gazette that post-mortem examinations, including x-rays, failed to produce any evidence of bullet wounds.

“The bodies were then handed back to the authorities,” one staffer who declined to identified, said.

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand4 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Storm Noru causing floods, death in northeast Thailand

Thailand4 hours ago

Airspace over Bangkok airport closed for airforce parade

Phuket4 hours ago

Four alleged investment scammers arrested in Phuket

Sponsored1 day ago

Segafredo Zanetti Coffee teamed up with Bangkok Airways and hosted “Bangkok Airways Surf Festival 2022”

Thailand5 hours ago

1 year old child allegedly snatched while parents slept

Air Pollution5 hours ago

For health reasons – Bangkok’s proposed congestion charge

Bangkok5 hours ago

As rain pours down on northern Thailand, Bangkok ups its canal drainage

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Cannabis5 hours ago

Traditional Thai medicine clinics offering cannabis treatments in Thailand

Health6 hours ago

Fizz buzz – Will kratom drinks ever hit the spot?

Patong6 hours ago

Four suspects admit they assaulted US tourist in Patong

Hot News7 hours ago

Doctor’s “sorry, not sorry” attitude after alleged hit-and-run of students lands him in hot water

Thailand7 hours ago

Police ignore cheating antics of drunk Bangkok cabbie

Pattaya7 hours ago

Third baby elephant of the year born at Pattaya garden

Thailand7 hours ago

Thai doctor warns against eating bats after ‘bat hunter’ sells for 100 baht per kilo

World8 hours ago

Kamala Harris visits South Korea a day after North Korea fires missiles

Events8 hours ago

Spartan Race to hit Phuket in November

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending