Thursday, 3 February 2011

Thais must give UN access to boat people: HRW

Source from rnw, 2 Feb 2011,

Thailand should urgently allow the UN refugee agency access to more than 200 detained boat people who are at risk of "atrocious" persecution in Myanmar, according to a rights group.

A group of 158 asylum seekers from the Rohingya ethnic group arrived in Thailand from Myanmar in January after "a perilous sea voyage in rickety, overcrowded boats", Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday.
Another 68 from the ethnic group -- described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities -- were arrested after landing in the southern Thai island of Phuket on Tuesday and were being prepared for repatriation, police told AFP.

Thailand has repeatedly refused to give the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) access to the detainees, the New-York based HRW said.
"The persecution of Rohingyas in Burma (Myanmar) is atrocious, but the Thai government continues to pretend that they are no different from any other undocumented migrant," said Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director.

Adams called on Thailand to allow the UNHCR to interview the detained Rohingya immediately to identify those seeking refugee status.
In the past human rights activists have condemned the Thai navy for sending Rohingya asylum-seekers back to sea.

The rights group said that in Myanmar, authorities have for more than three decades "systematically persecuted" the Rohingya, a Muslim minority living primarily in western Rakhine state, with little protest from other nations.

As many as 300,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they live in "primitive and squalid conditions" in both official and makeshift refugee camps, in fear of arrest or possible repatriation, HRW said.

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