As thousands of Rohingya flee Myanmar to escape religious persecution, a Reuters investigation has revealed a clandestine policy to remove Rohingya refugees from Thailand’s immigration confinement centers and transport them to human traffickers waiting at sea.
The Rohingya are moved across southern Thailand and held hostage in a series of camps hidden near the border with Malaysia until relatives pay thousands of dollars to release them.
Thousands of Rohingya have passed through this tropical gulag, with an untold number dying there. Some were murdered by camp guards, or succumbed to dehydration or disease.
Thai authorities maintain the practice doesn’t amount to human trafficking. But Thai Royal Police divulged for the first time a secret policy called “option two” that relies upon established trafficking networks intended to rid Thailand of Rohingya detainees.
One Rohingya, Ismail, attests that Thai immigration officials had sold him outright. Others claim officials aided in their sale to human traffickers. “It seemed so official at first,” said Ismail. “They took our photographs. They took our fingerprints. And then once in the boats, about 20 minutes out at sea, we were told we had been sold.”
Jason Szep and Andrew R. C. Marshall, “Special Report: Thailand Secretly Dumps Myanmar Refugees Into Trafficking Rings,” Reuters, December 5, 2013, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/12/05/uk-thailand-rohingya-special-report-idUKBRE9B400920131205.
Tony Cartalucci, “Thailand: Shinawatra Regime Complicit in Rohingya Slave Camps,” AltThaiNews, December 5, 2013, http://altthainews.blogspot.com/2013/12/thailand-shinawatra-regime-complicit-in.html.
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