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Thailand charges crew of stranded Rohingya boat - Boat captain says he was paid to take 65 Rohingya to Malaysia

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Boat captain says he was paid to take 65 Rohingya to Malaysia

By THE NATION

 

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POLICE SUSPECT a group of 65 Rohingya and five Myanmar men may have been trafficked from Bangladesh where over a million of them are being sheltered, after a Thai captain admitted that he was paid to take them across the Andaman Sea to Southeast Asia.

 

The Thai authorities yesterday sent 70 alleged illegal immigrants to detention at the Satun Immigration Police Office and two local police stations.

The confinement is related to a probe launched on Tuesday into alleged human trafficking.

 

National police inspector-general Pol General Suchat Theerasawat was to join the case meeting yesterday afternoon, a police source said.

 

At the Chalung Police Station where he was detained along with some 20 Rohingya, the 49-year-old boat captain, Thai national Sangkhom Paphan from Ranong province, allegedly admitted that he was hired for Bt100,000 by a Myanmar investor to collect the immigrants from Bangladesh and transport them to Malaysia. Authorities have laid initial charges against him for bringing illegal immigrants into the country.

 

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The captain and 70 passengers were rounded up by Third Naval Region officers on Tuesday after their vessel, which ran out of fuel three days earlier, was swept ashore at Koh Rawi in Tambon Koh Sarai of Satun’s Muang district. They were brought to the mainland in Langu district at 10pm on Tuesday.

 

As the fuel ran out, Sangkhom said he anchored the boat in mid-seas for three days to await a refill delivery, as the investor had promised, but it failed to arrive before strong waves swept the boat to the shore – information which matched the immigrants’ initial testimony.

 

The passengers received health screening and primary treatment as per the humanitarian principle, and were questioned about whether they were lured by a human trafficking gang.

 

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Meanwhile, Satun Islamic Committee president Arun Maji said he had instructed his deputy to co-ordinate donations for food aid and needed items for the 65 Muslim Rohingya. The Rohingya was sent to stay at a shelter in Songkhla’s Rattaphum district, he said.

 

The Rohingya community in Thailand would look out for the boat passengers, said the chairman of the Rohingya Association in Thailand, Siyeed Alam. “But we have to wait for the Thai authorities to allow us access to them,” he said, noting that he was worried that the authorities might detain them for a long time and then send them to Myanmar. 

 

Speaking from Nya Pyi Taw yesterday, Police Brigadier General Myint Htoo of Myanmar’s anti-human trafficking police told The Nation that Myanmar authorities have yet to be made aware of the fresh group of migrants landing in Thailand. 

 

“So far, the Thai police forces have not informed us of the arrest, so we believe they will be able to address the issue in a short period of time. Myanmar will be happy to cooperate with the Thai police and relevant authorities if there is any room for that matter. We are always willing to join hands with our neighbouring countries regarding trans-boundary issues. 

 

“We are happy to provide any necessary support they need, if we are informed of that through an official channel,” he said.

 

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More than 900,000 stateless Rohingya refugees live in crowded settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. It is estimated that 741,000 of them have fled from Myanmar since the most recent round of violence targeting them began in August 2017, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

 

The repatriation plan reached by Nay Pyi Taw and Dhaka to return the first batch of 2,000 returnees hit a stalemate last November, due to the refugees’ fears for their safety upon their return.

 

An observer said the fear of repatriation might motivate Rohingya to take the dangerous journey across the Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia, where Malaysia is the prime destination with Thailand a transit point. 

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30370991

 

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Thailand charges crew of stranded Rohingya boat

By Panarat Thepgumpanat and Panu Wongcha-um

 

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Rohingya people are seen detained in a police station after a fishing boat carrying more than sixty Rohingya refugees was found beached at Rawi island, part of Tarutao national park in the province of Satun, Thailand, bordering with Malaysia, June 12, 2019. REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom

 

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai authorities have charged the captain and crew of a boat carrying 65 Rohingya Muslims with assisting illegal immigration after the group was found stranded on a southern Thai island, police said on Wednesday.

 

The 29 men, 31 women and five children were discovered on Rawi island in Satun province where their boat had beached due to engine trouble, police said on Tuesday.

 

The crew - five Myanmar nationals and the Thai captain - were charged with assisting foreign nationals to enter the country illegally, an offence that can carry a prison term of up to 10 years.

 

"We have charged the Thai and Myanmar suspects with assisting illegal entry for migrants," Police General Suchart Thirasawat told Reuters.

 

The Rohingya are being cared for while authorities try to determine if they are victims of human trafficking, he said.

 

"We have not pressed charges against the Rohingya passengers and are still working to determine whether they are victims or not," Suchart said.

 

Many Rohingya Muslims have boarded boats in recent months to try to reach Malaysia, part of what authorities fear could be a new wave of people smuggling by sea after a 2015 crackdown on trafficking.

 

"Based on what we know so far, these Rohingya are from the border area between Myanmar and Bangladesh and they were travelling to Malaysia," said Jaruwat Kliangklao, governor of Satun province.

 

Myanmar regards the Rohingya as illegal migrants from the Indian subcontinent and has confined tens of thousands to sprawling camps in Rakhine state segregated from the Buddhist Rakhine population since violence swept the area in 2012.

 

The unrest prompted tens of thousands of Rohingya to flee Myanmar by sea, an exodus that peaked in 2015 when an estimated 25,000 people crossed the Andaman Sea for Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, many drowning in unsafe and overloaded boats.

 

More than 700,000 Rohingya fled into Bangladesh in 2017 after a crackdown by the Myanmar's army, according to U.N. agencies.

 

(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; editing by Darren Schuettler)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-06-13

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Someone made some money off of this.  Let's say that each migrant paid 10,000 baht to get on the boat, that would be ฿650,000.  They paid the captain 100,000 and pocketed the rest.

 

Rather shortsighted though.  If they had put a few more barrels of fuel on board, the boat would probably have made it all the way to Malaysia or Indonesia and could have done several more trips.

 

The trip from Cox's Bazaar to Indonesia or Malaysia is about 1000 Nautical miles.  A boat that size should burn at least 2 liters per nautical mile, or more, given the prevailing headwinds this time of year.  They probably had exactly 2000 liters of fuel on board and just couldn't make it all the way.

Edited by otherstuff1957

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...and...'they'....constantly talk about ....'respect for life'......

 

....(except the lives of 'others', I guess...???)

 

***

 

....and the ones responsible are always 'others'.....

 

....neat/convenient philosophy....???

 

***

 

...on a global scale....apparently human trafficking has now surpassed drug smuggling....

 

 

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