Starving Rohingyas found in South Thailand national park

Rohingyas found at Tarutao National Park, photo by Tarutao National Park Facebook.

The chief of a national park in south Thailand announced yesterday (Saturday) that 59 Rohingya migrants had appeared on a beach there .The chief, Phanpong Kongkaeo, said his assistant alerted him that the 59 people appear to be starving and had no food or supplies with them. Phanpong said he has ordered food and drinking water for them.

Tarutao National Park is located across several islands in Thailand’s southernmost province of Satun, near the Malaysian border. The group of 59 migrants was found on Dong Island. Phanpong said park officials will investigate how the migrants arrived on the island, and will wait for instructions on what steps to take.

As a persecuted ethnic and religious minority group in Myanmar, many Rohingyas have died attempting to flee to neighbouring countries. Last month, a boat carrying at least 90 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Malaysia capsized off the coast of Myanmar, drowning at least 14 of the passengers, mostly children.

Rhohinga, and other Burmese refugees, or citizens just trying to find work, are routinely trafficked through Thailand. Many find illegal work in the country fishing industry, or low-paying work as illegal migrant workers.

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But even if they make it to Malaysia, life remains hell for many Rohingyas or any other Burmese refugees. The country does not recognise refugee status, and Rohingyas there are kept in immigration detention centres. In April, 582 Rohingya refugees had escaped a temporary immigration detention centre, when 2 men, 2 woman, and a boy and a girl were hit and killed trying to cross a highway in Kedah state.

Many other Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, have been criticised for their treatment of Rohingya refugees. In 2019, police arrested a man who they believe trafficked at least 200 Rohingya refugees into Thailand on their way to Malaysia.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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