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Burmese authorities intercept boat carrying 173 Rohingya Muslims

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Burmese authorities intercept boat carrying 173 Rohingya Muslims | The Thaiger
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FILE PHOTO: The New Humanitarian

Burmese authorities have intercepted a boat and detained 173 Rohingya ‘boat people’ off the southern coast of Myanmar. They believe that the group from the Muslim minority group were heading to sea to seek a better life an avoid persecution. They were intercepted by a Navy vessel who detained the group and charged them ‘travelling illegally’.

Amongst those aboard were 22 children.

More than 730,000 ethnic Rohingya fled the Rhakine State in western Myanmar, north into neighbouring Bangladesh, during August 2017 to escape a military-led crackdown by the Tatmadaw (Burmese Army). At the time UN investigators described the attacks as having “genocidal intent” and included well-documented mass killings and rapes. Burmese authorities responded by saying that the attacks were in response to smaller attacks on their soldiers.

600,000 Rohingya still live in the Rhakine State in an otherwise largely Buddhist Myanmar, restricted to living in camps and villages and unable to travel freely, or access healthcare or education.

For years, Rohingya have become refugees and been forced to seek refuge by boarding boats and heading south, usually bound for Malaysia, a country officially sympathetic to their cause.

But most of the boats are organised by smugglers during the months between November and March, usually for exorbitant fees amid false promises. Often the boats are intercepted by the Royal Thai Navy patrolling the northern Andaman Sea where the refugees are rescued and processed before being returned to Myanmar.

Others end up landing on Thai shores in the north and trafficked through the Kingdom by smugglers who promise them safe passage to the Malaysian border but usually extort large sums of money from them, sometimes incarcerating the Rohingya in camps where they fall prey to other human trafficking gangs.

At this stage authorities are unsure if the current vessel intercepted by authorities started its voyage in Myanmar or Bangladesh. A Bangladeshi coast guard official Saiful Islam told Reuters they were unaware of any boats leaving the camps on the Burmese/Bangladesh border for Myanmar.

“If we had such information, we would have stopped them,” he told Reuters.

Rohingya Boatpeople caught by Burmese authorities are often arrested and charged with ‘travelling illegally’. Hundreds have been imprisoned in jails and youth detention centres across the country.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Myanmar

Tourists to Myanmar going up, but falling short of projections

The Thaiger

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Tourists to Myanmar going up, but falling short of projections | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Numbers going up, but falling short of projections - South China Morning Post

Vietnam to the right of me, Myanmar to the left, Thailand stuck in the middle….

Myanmar’s 2019 tourism figures improved 15% to give the country 1,324,000 tourist arrivals through the main airport at Yangon. Officials released the 2019 visitor data for Yangon Airport, which excludes cross border arrivals and arrivals through Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw airports, the country’s two other international aviation gateways.

Once overland arrivals at border checkpoints are counted, the annual inbound tourist numbers are expected to swell to around 4 million for the full 2019 year. But the numbers fall well short of the projections made for 2020 which said there would be 7.5 million tourist arrivals by the end of the last decade by the Asian Development Bank. The projections were made by a detailed report on Bumese tourism back in 2013.

In 2019, Asian tourist emerged as the dominant supply with 1,060,396 arrivals at Yangon airport last year, an increase of 20%. This compares with 142,443 arrivals from Western Europe, 0% growth for 2019

China drives the growth in Asian markets, delivering 344,268 passengers, up by a massive 75%, Thailand is now the second-largest source market, dropping from the top spot.

Japan, South Korea and the US make up the third, fourth and firth largest tourist markets arriving at the country’s largest airport. Other strong top performers were: Singapore 52,461, Vietnam 50,203, India 42,548, Malaysia 40,891 and Taiwan 36,874.

Arrivals from the UK market dropped 7%, France slumped 2% and Switzerland declined 10%. Australia tourism to Myanmar declined 8% over the past year.

SOURCE: ttrweekly.com

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Bangkok

Large Bangkok drug haul – meth pills, crystal meth and Ketamine

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Large Bangkok drug haul – meth pills, crystal meth and Ketamine | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The seized drugs on parade during yesterday's media briefing in Bangkok - INN News

Metropolitan Police have reported the seizure of 1,600,000 methamphetamine pills (yaba), 34 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine (ice), and 40 kilograms of Ketamine. Officials also seized a pick-up involved in the drug gang’s business as well as weapons. The Patrol and Special Operation Division 191 Police seized the drugs from Nipol ‘Hin’ Janprapat and Anuwat ‘James’ Bunjeen while they were in Bang Khae District, western Bangkok.

Police Lieutenant General Pokpong Pongpetra related that the investigation revealed suspects had been renting a home to use as a drug warehouse. The drugs had been sourced from the border areas of northern Thailand, transported south, and then stored in the rented house. They’d then wait for delivery instructions around the Bangkok area.

The 2 suspects already have links with previous drug smuggling operations and, with links to arrests in Pak Kret, Nonthaburi Province and Thonburi District.

Officials also arrested 49 year old Toh-r Denbonfahthai on January 15, who police allege has connections to the ‘Karen people’, a Burmese ethnicity living to the north of the Thai border. He was nabbed with 66 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine at the Bangkok Bus Terminal in Chatuchak. He was travelling in a Toyota Sport Rider. His arrest led officials to an abandoned vehicle which was loaded up with 31 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine.

Discussing the modus operandi, police say the suspects would deliver the drugs through multiple drug smuggling gangs using public transportation from Mae Sot and Tak provinces (northern Thailand) to Mo Chit in Bangkok. They allege the drugs are then intercepted by another group who would put the drugs into the abandoned car parked on Nawamin Road.

The drugs are then delivered to the person who has ordered the drugs. In this case, the buyer was known as ‘Ma-ah from Myanmar’, living in Thailand. The investigation continues.

SOURCE: Thai Residents

Large Bangkok drug haul - meth pills, crystal meth and Ketamine | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: INN News

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Crime

Thai policeman arrested as key suspect in human trafficking of Rohingya

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai policeman arrested as key suspect in human trafficking of Rohingya | The Thaiger

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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