Rohingya Asylum Seekers

More than 200 Rohingya asylum seekers broke out detention. They wanted to pray together to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

INDONESIA

Sabtu, 17 Agus 2013 16:58 WIB

Author

Kannikar Petchkaew

Rohingya Asylum Seekers

Thailand, Rohingya refugees, Burma, Myanmar, Rajan Parajuli

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingyas have fled Myanmar due to persecuted.

Many have ended up in Thailand.

In the morning of Eid Mubarak... it’s a day to celebrate the end of the Muslim fasting month.

But in Phang Nga Immigration Centre, more than 200 Rohingya refugees decided they had had enough...

After being held for 9 months in an overcrowded detention cell in Southern Thailand, they revolted.

They demanded to be able to pray together to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month.

Their long stand wish is to be released and be sent to a third country.

These demands were denied and instead they were taken to a local police station.

“We can’t afford to look after the amount of people come and staying for such a long time. We expect there will be more incidents because they are frustrated with the situation,” says Neti Khanboon, the Director of Phang Nga Immigration Center.

Thailand is currently sheltering more than 2,000 Rohingya people who fled Myanmar by boat, mostly in the southern provinces.

Under international pressure, Thai government agreed to provide shelters until July this year.

“We have been trying very hard to ask Thai government to provide a better situation for them on humanitarian basis,” says Parinya Bunritreutaikul from Amnesty International Thailand.

“They  committed no crime .We also want Thai Government to work closely to the UNHCR. Because this UN body can provide them a asylum seeking process. The problem is the UNHCR are not allowed to take any actions so far.”

Amnesty has filed an open letter to the Thai Government demanding the release of the Rohingyas.

They want to see a better national mechanism to ensure effective and fair assessment of their asylum claims.

The Thai Authorities say they are doing their best in the face of a difficult situation.

“We can’t just expel or ignore them. If we just push them away, they would end up as victims of human trafficking. Another problem is that if we send them back they might  be in bigger  trouble ..” says Neti from the Detention Center.

Rohingya migrants have been coming to Thailand for the past 30 years.

Here in Bangkok, thousands of Rohingya selling food or working as daily labourers.

Abdul Mahmud is in his early 50. He entered Thailand illegally 30 years ago, but now has a legal minority status.

“I married a Thai woman. In the past I often get caught by the officers and each time I was sent to the Thai-Burma border for several months. My wife left me, and I now live with my three children.”

His children have Thai citizenships, but other Rohingya children who were born in Thailand don’t.

“Thai government should give them a chance to study, to make a living like any other human being,” he adds.

In the northern city of Chiang Mai, university students are moved by an exhibition of photos on the plight of Rohingya people.

“It’s horrible,” says 19-year-old student Mattanee Kanjam. “This is the first time for me to see and know about the bitter life of Rohingya people.”

The photos were taken by a Thai photographer Suthep Kritsanavarin.

He spent two years travelling across 6 countries to document the Rohingya people.

The aim is to show the world their torment and push for a talk of peace between the Rohingya and the Buddhist people in  their homeland who confront them with hate.

“The only way to end this problem is to talk. It’s impossible to run after and  kill each other all the time. They will both lose.”

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