Thursday, 23 June 2016

Suu Kyi visit brings harsh crackdown on Rohingya, advocates in Thailand

source Bangkokpost, 23 june

Rohingya illegal immigrants and human trafficking victims are held in a number of detention centres around the country, such as this one in Pathum Thani province. (File photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Police on Thursday forced cancellation of a press conference and presentation at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand on the problems of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

Unconfirmed reports said police arrested Haji Ismail, the secretary-general of an activist organisation, the Rohingya Thailand Group, who had arranged to hire the FCCT premises for the event.

The arrival of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday has thrown a political blanket over discussion of the much-discriminated group. Mrs Suu Kyi's office has forbidden even the use of the word "Rohingya".

In Myanmar, the Muslim group is officially called Bengali immigrants. There are an unknown number of Rohingya "boat people" in Thai detention centres.

Mr Ismail released a lengthy statement to the media that he had planned to deliver at Thursday's now-cancelled presentation at the FCCT premises.

It is highly critical of the Myanmar authorities, whom Mr Ismail blames for last year's disastrous outpouring of boat people from western Myanmar.

In a reference to Mrs Suu Kyi, the statement said, "All our hopes in the leadership of democratic statesmen have faded away. Indeed we did not hope this sort of harsh and negative political stance and undemocratic rhetoric from our noble peace laureate."

He also released the text of a letter addressed to Mrs Suu Kyi from the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons (CRSP). It recommended changes to Myanmar law to provide Rohingya with citizenship and full civil rights.

"Stop discriminating against the ethnic minorities in Myanmar and consider acceding to international human rights treaties," it said.

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