How did Indonesia try to take in Malaysia?
Sent to death
They were half-dying of thirst, starvation, and exhausted when they were picked up by the Coast Guard and taken ashore. The refugees are Rohingya, members of an ethnic minority who have not been recognized as citizens by the military government in Burma and have been persecuted for years.
The men who are receiving medical care in a hospital on the island of Sabang near Banda Aceh had come across the Andaman Sea in small unseaworthy boats and they reported terrible experiences.
"A few fishermen saw us out at sea. We called for help because we had no engine. The Thais simply abandoned us in the open sea. The fishermen saved us."
During their crossing from Burma or Bangladesh, they got into Thai waters, the men reported. The Thai Navy beat and mistreated them and then dragged them out to sea in unseaworthy boats and simply left them to their fate.
The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has requested an investigation into the allegations. Kitty McKinsey, UNHCR spokeswoman in Bangkok:
"The Thai Navy can of course prevent boats from landing on the Thai coast. But what they are accused of is that they brought the boat refugees to small islands, held them there for a few days and then dragged them out into the open sea in boats , without drinking water and food and in boats without a motor. And you can imagine what that means. "
The Rohingya are an ethnic minority from the state of Arakan, in northwest Burma on the border with Bangladesh. They are Muslims and allegedly want to travel to Malaysia, where more than 20,000 Rohingya are said to already live.
The Rohingya, who have arrived on the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra since the beginning of the year, are regarded as illegal immigrants in Indonesia as well as in Thailand and are supposed to be deported after receiving medical treatment. Teuku Faizasyah, the spokesman for the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
"After questioning the boat refugees individually, we can come to the conclusion that they are economic immigrants. We have to clarify what they want and how to proceed with them."
The Muslim Rohingya are not recognized by the military government in Burma as an ethnic minority of the multi-ethnic state of Myanmar, but rather as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. Hundreds of thousands fled to Bangladesh in the 1970s and 1990s because they were persecuted in their homeland.
Nurul Islam, the president of a Rohingya organization in exile, said on Australian radio that the members of his people were completely without rights and defenseless in Burma:
"They live there in complete poverty. Their freedom of movement is restricted, they cannot marry, have no freedom of religion. They are forced to work, tortured, their land is confiscated. The military government has created a situation in which the Rohingya are not at peace Burma can live. "
An estimated one million Rohingya live in refugee camps in Bangladesh on the border with Burma, in dire conditions and in complete poverty. From there, too, thousands have started the dangerous crossing over the Andamen Sea in the past few weeks with the hope of a better life, in Malaysia or Indonesia or Thailand.
"My husband didn't tell me he was going to Malaysia. I thought he went out fishing. If I had known what he was up to, I wouldn't have let him go."
"We came from Myanmar because there was no peace for us there. It's not very good here in Bangladesh either, so my husband tried to go to Malaysia. But the ship sank in the Andaman Islands."
The allegations against the Thai Navy that they mistreated hundreds of boat refugees from Burma and left them defenseless at sea to their fate are serious and have provoked an outcry around the world.
Thailand has denied the allegations. However, tourists on the beach of the Similian Islands north of Phuket had taken photos of around 100 boat refugees being picked up, handcuffed and mistreated on the beach. Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has announced an investigation. However, the investigations are apparently to be led by a unit that is said to have been largely responsible for the mistreatment of the refugees.
"The armed forces have been asked to investigate the allegations and explain what happened. There are quite a few photos showing how these people were treated. But there are different and conflicting explanations for this. We will investigate that. "
However, Thailand does not want to grant the boat refugees from Burma a right of residence. In Ranong, residents demonstrated against alleged plans to set up another refugee camp. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Burma have been living on the Thai-Burmese border for years. Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban:
"We are not able to carry this burden. We can provide humanitarian aid to the refugees, we can give them something to eat, but then they have to travel on. Our country is not strong enough to take in another 200,000 or 300,000 Rohingya. "
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