HRW report: Rohingya exodus from Burma
Human Rights Watch publicou esta semana un breve informe sobre os Rohingya que foxen de Birmania (Myanmar). As autoridades deste país discriminan ós Rohingya por razón da súa etnia, negándolles incluso a nacionalidade, e converténdoos así en apátridas na súa propia terra. O informe leva por título “Perilous Plight: Burma’s Rohingya Take to the Seas”. Copio un extracto da súa introducción:
In late December 2008, several small boats packed with hundreds of people, mostly ethnic Rohingya Muslims from western Burma, many of them emaciated, landed in India’s Andaman Islands. Passengers told Indian authorities they had originally landed in Thailand, that Thai authorities held them for two days on a deserted island, and that they then towed them back out to sea, giving them only a few sacks of rice and a little water. Some told officials and doctors that while at sea they had been tortured by Burmese sailors who stopped their vessel.
Sadly, this was not an unusual story. Rohingya, and other people fleeing Burma to escape oppression or to find a better life elsewhere, are a fact of life in Southeast Asia. What was different this time was that in January and February 2009 the plight of this group was captured on camera. The televised images of hundreds of men and boys crammed into rickety boats, gaunt, some of them bloodied, and expressing equal parts shock and surprise at having reached land were almost from another time. The pictures showed hundreds of Rohingya men lying head first in rows along the beach guarded by armed Thai authorities, including police, navy and national park service officials. Thai officials claimed later that their tactics were standard operating procedures for controlling large numbers of suspects, even though the approach appeared brutal to onlookers.
Some of these graphic photographs of Rohingya detained by authorities on Thai tourist beaches were taken by foreign tourists. If not for the fortuitous presence of these foreigners, these stories may have remained little more than a rumor or even completely unknown. Images of the Rohingya on Thai beaches appeared first in the South China Morning Post, the BBC, and then on CNN.
The international outcry about the treatment of the Rohingya in Thailand centered on Thailand’s callous “push-back” policy, which the new administration of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at first denied, then announced it would investigate. As international concern grew, more boats began arriving as part of the annual transit organized by smugglers, many of the passengers unaware of the events on Thailand’s coastline. Ultimately, Thai officials blamed media distortion, saying that the Rohingya were economic migrants, not refugees, and that Thailand could not absorb the flow.
The Thai government dismissed proposals to set up temporary holding centers for the Rohingya to ascertain their status as refugees, asylum seekers, or undocumented migrants. It granted the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) only limited access to the hundreds of Rohingya in Thai custody. Thai authorities fined most for illegal entry, and prepared to send them back to Burma. Rohingya fear being returned, given the likelihood that they will be harshly received by the Burmese authorities and vulnerable to arbitrary arrest as punishment for illegal exit from Burma, including imprisonment and fines, and being stricken from household registration lists. Many of the men detained in January and February remain in custody in southern Thailand.
While the Rohingya finally gained international media and governmental attention, the reality is that this group was only the latest influx in an annual sailing season for people escaping poverty, misery, and rampant human rights violations in Burma and Bangladesh. The Arakan Project, a Bangkok-based non-governmental organization, estimatesthat more than 6,000 men and boys have made the journey in dozens of fishing boats from Burma and Bangladesh since November 2008. […]
- “Thailand forcibly expelled a thousand Rohingyas arriving by boat” (Blog de César Salgado, 2 – II – 2009)
- “MSF briefing paper on Rohingya (from Burma) seeking refuge in Bangladesh” (Blog de César Salgado, 1 – IX – 2007)
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