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Rohingya trafficking suspect to be charged for abduction, rape

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Rohingya trafficking suspect to be charged for abduction, rape | Thaiger

PHUKET: The man accused of repeatedly raping a Rohingya woman he was allegedly to smuggle from a welfare shelter in Phang Nga, north of Phuket, to Malaysia will face rape and abduction charges, police today confirmed to the Phuket Gazette.

“We were issued an arrest warrant today that will allow us to take him into custody and proceed with pressing deprivation of liberty and rape charges against him,” said Lt Saner Sumard of the Kuraburi Police.

Korlimula Mahamutu, as he is named in Thai on the arrest warrant, is currently being detained in Phang Nga Town as he is already facing charges of human trafficking (story here).

“Now that we have the warrant, we will co-ordinate when we can take him into custody,” Lt Saner said late this afternoon.

Phang Nga Provincial Police Commander Chalit Kaewyarat told the Gazette that his officers will continue their investigation into the reported rape ordeal and the human-trafficking allegations.

“Any persons we find involved in human trafficking will be prosecuted,” he said.

Following reports of a Thai man arriving at the Phang Nga shelter where Rohingya refugees are staying and threatening to kill the Rohingya woman and the shelter’s director, Maj Gen Chalit said he had no knowledge of any such incidents.

“If we had received any such reports, we certainly would investigate them and take action against any person who did such a wrongful act,” he said.

A high-ranking, trusted source at the shelter today told the Gazette that she had not heard of any threats against any staff or Rohingya at the refuge.

“I do not know how that news was spread. Nobody even asked me about it. I swear that no Thai man came here to threaten anybody,” she added.

However, the allegedly raped Rohingya woman and her two daughters will be transferred to another Department of Social Development and Welfare shelter.

“There, she will be protected and nobody can bother her about the rape,” the staffer said.

“The woman is sick and tired of people trying to approach her, talk to her and take photos of her,” she explained.

“At this stage I cannot reveal when and where she will be transferred. That depends on the police and if they still need her for questioning…

“But I do know she is tired of the case. She does not want to talk about it. I understand that, and I hope others understand that too,” she said.

The news today follows New York-based Human Rights Watch this morning issuing a statement calling for the Thai government to investigate the alleged rape ordeal and how human traffickers reportedly gained access to the Rohingya refugees.

“The rape… demonstrates the vulnerability of Rohingya women to human traffickers – even when they are living in government-run shelters where they should be protected,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The government needs to swiftly and impartially investigate the rape case, and determine why traffickers were able to get access to Rohingya women in this shelter, and prosecute all those who aided the crime,” he said.

“It’s unacceptable that those involved in trafficking and abusing of Rohingya operate with impunity, while the victims are left with little or no protection from Thai authorities,” Adams said.

The HRW report today noted that more than 1,700 Rohingya have been in the custody of Thai authorities since January 2013.

“Under immense international pressure, the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra agreed in January 2013 to let these Rohingya stay in Thailand temporarily, until they can be safely repatriated to their places of origin or resettled in third countries,” said the report.

“Calling them ‘illegal immigrants’, Thai authorities have put Rohingya men in overcrowded immigration detention facilities across the country. Women and children have been sent to shelters operated by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. As a result, in a number of cases, families have been split up

“The government does not permit the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to properly conduct refugee status determination screening of these Rohingya,” it added.

“Each year, tens of thousands of Rohingya set sail to flee persecution by the Burmese government and dire poverty,” Mr Adams said.

“Their plight has worsened at the hands of traffickers and corrupt Thai officials. It is time for the United Nations and the international community to take action.”

— Chutharat Plerin


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