PLIGHT OF THE ROHINGYA PEOPLE – Ask most people in the West if they know or are aware of the Rohingya and it is most likely that you would get a blank stare of un-recognition – it is this un-recognition that has fuelled the plight of the Rohingya for centuries.
The Rohingya are a sect of people who reside in Burma, or Myanmar, as it is now officially called. However the Myanmar Government refuses to acknowledge their rights of citizenship and therefore they are not only stateless they are also heavily persecuted by the Burmese.
You would think that the Burmese people, considering their history of oppression and dictatorship and with the likes of Aung San Suu Kyi, campaigning for their rights to a democratic system, that the Burmese would be a little more understanding towards the Rohingya, who have resided in Burma for over a thousand years. Unfortunately these people are continually abused and to the point where many have now taken to the seas in small boats to escape the constant persecution.
When it comes to Human Rights violations, the Burmese Government go hand in hand with the Thai Government, both despicable and both without a human soul.
Most of the Rohingya travel at sea in the hope of reaching Malaysia, a fellow Muslim country, where help is often given. Unfortunately their boats are often at the mercy of the winds and currents and have to pass through Thai territorial waters in order to reach their preferred destination – many do not make it and come into contact with the Thai Navy.
In 2009 Thailand became the target of International abuse after it was discovered that a covert order was given, by the Government, to the Navy to push-back the Rohingya boats, along with all its occupants, many of whom were young children, out to sea in order to prevent them landing on Thai soil, resulting in the Thai Government having to go to the trouble and expense of processing and deporting them right back in the hands of their oppressors, the Burmese Government.
It was discovered that the Thai Navy often disable the engines and other navigational aids on the boats which left the Rohingya to float adrift, resulting in death by starvation and by the lack of drinking water.
Understandably the international community was appalled and the Thai Government changed its policy of a Push-Back to one of Helping-On. The policy included providing the Rohingya with food water and point the way to Malaysai.
It was only a few weeks ago that a group of Rohingya refugees came ashore in Thailand after experiencing problems with their boat. The refugees totaled 73 people, mostly women and very young children, all under the age of ten.
Thailand’s answer to their plight was not one of compassion but one of doing everything it could, including ignoring international law and human rights laws, so that it did not have the burden of accommodating these people.
Less than a week later, all 73 refugees were piled in a small boat and put back out to sea to fend for themselves. The images of the faces of the young children are simply heart-breaking but you won’t find a heart among the Thai people, even if they do like to refer to Thailand as the Land of Smiles.
Thais are cold hearted, highly nationalistic, with a self belief that no other country is as great nor as strong as Thailand and anyone that is not Thai is not better than a cockroach.
Letter from Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani via email to freemalaysiatoday.com
WE, THE MYANMAR Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia condemn the plan of the Thai government to deport 73 Rohingya boat people back to Myanmar.
The Thai government by now should be aware of the plight of Rohingyas in Arakan State [also known as Rakhine State] of Myanmar.
The Thai government and other neighboring countries by now should be aware why the Rohingyas are continuously becoming boat people.
If Rohingya boat people landed on our shores, they must be handed over to UNHCR to access their status and give the necessary assistance.
We are very frustrated as the Thai government fails to observe the ”nonrefoulement” policy though we know Thailand is not a signatory to 1951 Refugee Convention.
This is not the first time the Thai government is giving bad treatment to the Rohingya boat people. In 2009, the international community was shocked to see how the Thai navy had push back hundreds of Rohingya boat people to the sea without food and water.
The Rohingyas were also abused by the Thai navy. Many of them died at sea as a result of the navy’s action. The Thai government was not made accountable for the crime they committed towards stateless Rohingya boat people.
The group of 73 consists of men, children and women. The initial plan of Thai authority to push the boat back to the sea after providing food, water and fuel was seen as inhuman and selfish. They fail to understand our plight back home.
They still want to send us back to the hands that destroy our lives. All the 73 Rohingya are currently waiting for deportation at Ranong province. We do not know how many boats have been push back to the sea by the Thai government and their fates.
We also condemn the act of Singapore government who refused permission to Rohingya boat people to enter Singapore after their boat sank near Bay of Bengal.
They had been in the water for 30 hours before the ship Nosco Victory rescued them on December 5, 2012. An estimated 160 Rohingya are believed to have drowned.
Since October 2011, the media reported few incidents of the sinking boats of Rohingyas which claimed hundreds of lives.
We do not know how many more had died in the sea. We will continue to see more and more Rohingya fleeing to save their lives and families as the situation in Arakan State is worsening.
The international community and world leaders think that the situation in Arakan State is back to normal but the reality is not.
The Myanmar government is continuously killing, raping, arresting, and detaining Rohingya through its security forces.
The Nasaka [border security force] and police forced the Rohingya to confess that they are Bengalis not Rohingya. If they insist that they are Rohingya, they will be arrested and taken to the jail.
In jail, they were beaten badly and some died. Many Rohingya men have been arrested and detained. The security forces demand lots of money in order to be released.
Hundreds or thousands of Rohingyas are stranded in the jail as they do not have money to pay.
The situation in the Rohingya camps is very bad as there are not enough food, water and medical supplies. Hundreds or thousands of Rohingya have died due to severe starvation.
Rohingya source of food have been confiscated by the security forces. The military order the Rohingya to harvest paddy and confiscate them, leaving nothing for them.
In November 2012, we received numerous calls from Buthidaung township reporting that the Rakhines and the security forces have been poisoning the water source for Rohingya villages. An estimated 50 ponds were poisoned by the Rakhines and the security forces.
The Myanmar government uses many ways to eliminate Rohingya from Arakan State. They will not stop until we are removed. The United Nations and the world leaders must open their eyes to the Rohingya’s plight as its claims thousands of innocent lives.
The United Nations and the world leaders must deal directly with the Myanmar government without delay and take appropriate measures to end the plight of Rohingya.
A UN peace keeping mission must be sent urgently to control and monitor the human rights violations.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has called on regional countries to keep their borders open to people seeking asylum and provide protection from Myanmar. We appeal to the Asean countries to accept the Rohingya boat people and hand them over to the UNHCR to access their status.
We are thankful to the more humanitarian countries like Malaysia and Indonesia who are willing to accept the Rohingya boat people and not pushing them back to the ses.
Though Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, it still open its heart to help the affected people in the region and in the international arena.
If Malaysia can do so why not Thailand which is the host of many international agencies, including Asean secretary general. [the post is now held by Vietnam, not Thailand.]
The Rohingyas are one of the many ethnic people in the Asean region though we are not recognised by the Myanmar government. Asean must be more responsive and take practical measures to protect its own people.
Everyone has the rights to live in peace and dignity, free from fear and prejudice.We should not use religion to separate us. We as human beings must be able to live in peace though we have many differences.
God shall Bless and protect those who defend the right of their fellow humans.
Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani is president of the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation, Malaysia
As you can clearly see from the letter, it outlines the plight of the Rohingya and their despicable treatment by the Thai Government and is Royal Navy.
It it inconceivable to most right minded, decent human beings, with even an ounce of morals of feelings for those less fortunate, that this type of abuse can be acceptable. Thailand, much to the surprise of many, is not a poor country, however it is a country deeply rooted in segregation of the poor. The divide between those who have money and those who do not is staggering with less than one percent of the population controlling over ninety percent of the country’s wealth.
Thais look upon each other with a definite class distinction, it is why a poor Thai will almost get on their hands and knees in subservience to those of the upper class.
Thais do not care about human life, it all revolves around money and how much you have. When you continuously hear of the number of tourists beaten, mugged, raped and even murdered, which is then often attempted to being covered up, all this the name of saving face and not losing that all important Tourist dollar, then you see the true face of Thailand and how despicable this race of people are.
The plight of the Rohingya will continue and as Thailand as just announced it will not be joining ASEAN until at least 2016, this will allow it to continue with its atrocity of murdering innocent men, women and children by ignoring their pleas for help and sanctuary all because they are poor and poor people, in the eyes of a Thai, is simply not worth concerning yourself over.
The Thais and the Burmese are not better than each other when it comes to crimes against humanity, however in the 2004 Tsunami, it didn’t stop either the Burmese or the Thai Government from pleading to the West for financial aid and expertise to help them overcome the crisis and as the West is more attune to helping those less fortunate, we gave and to no small amount. Where did the money go? I can tell you from first hand, having been in Thailand during and after the Tsunami, that the Thai Authorities were more interested in getting their hands on the vast sums of aid money than they were in rebuilding lives and helping others – they cared little for the fellow Thai and foreigners were certainly not a consideration of any kind. Their prime concern was to find ways of getting people returning on holiday in order to continue milking the vast cash-cow of tourism.
Burma has now opened up its doors to Tourism, in the hope it too can build a country on the huge revenues that tourism can generate. I would point out, that considering my direct experience with both nations, I will not being visiting either Burma or Thailand again in my life time. I simply refuse to provide funds for a corrupt and murderous society where nothing matters other than getting rich, even if that means doing so on the back, and often death, of a fellow human being.
Just remember, the next time you are thinking about booking a ticket to Thailand or Burma then think again. Your tourist dollar will continue to fuel their greed, corruption and even the murder of the Rohingya Refugees. Show your humanity, show your disgust and in by doing so you will show the Rohingya that some people do care about their right to life and their right to be treated as human beings.