The new Burmese government, while tackling historic political and economic reforms, is neglecting the plight of its ethnic and religious minorities. The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority for the western Rakhine region, continue to suffer persecution, and for some it only gets worse after they flee the country.In a fantastic piece of reporting, Reuters describes how Rohingya refugees in Thailand are detained and sold by Thai police officials to human traffickers. An excerpt:
Until now, the Thai government has denied official complicity in the smuggling or trafficking of Rohingya. But in a break with that position, Chatchawal said Thai officials might have received money previously in exchange for Rohingya, but not anymore. “In the past, and I stress in the past, there may have been cases of officials taking payments for handing over migrants to boats,” he said. “I am not ruling it out, but I don’t know of any specific cases recently.”He said it was possible the Rohingya were intercepted by brokers and never made it to Myanmar. “Once they’ve crossed that border, that red line in the sea, they are Myanmar’s responsibility,” he said.He also admitted the camps uncovered by Reuters exist in breach of Thai laws. He referred to them as “temporary shelters” for a people who ultimately want to reach Malaysia. The smugglers who run the camps “extort money from Rohingya” but police don’t accept bribes from them, he said.”
In an increasingly rare example of how investigative journalism actually shapes policy, the UN called for an immediate investigation in to the alleged human rights violations taking place in Thailand after Reuters came out with the report. Do read the whole thing.