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Pattaya Daily News

04 February 2009 :: 18:02:01 pm 39236

Thai Foreign Minister Denies Alleged Inhumane Treatment of Rohingyas

BANGKOK, Feb 4 - Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Wednesday denied media reports quoting an Indonesian naval officer as saying a group of Rohingya found adrift off Sumatra on Monday said they were forced to sea by the Thai authorities and drifted for three weeks without an engine, food or water.
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The Thai foreign minister dismisssed the reports, arguing that the accounts of the boat people had not been verified by the Indonesian government.

“The foreign media reports have not yet been verified, we have to wait for an official investigation of the Indonesian government on the issue,” he said.

Mr. Kasit commented in response to the Associated Press and Agence France Presse reports quoting Indonesian navy officer Tedi Sutardi citing Rohingya witnesses as stating that 22 of their number had died on the crossing from Thailand after fleeing the military dictatorship in Myanmar.

“Fishermen found a wooden boat without an engine drifting in the sea with 198 Myanmar migrants,” Mr. Sutardi was quoted as saying. “They said Thai authorities towed them out to sea and set them adrift.”

According to the AFP report, the boat people showed scars from beatings they said they had received at the hands of the Thais, matching similar allegations from another group of 174 Rohingya found off Sumatra on January 7.

The Associated Press reported Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah confirmed that the boat has been towed to Idirayeuk town in eastern Aceh, and local officials have provided the boat people with medical care.

Mr. Faizasyah also said that the government is sending a team to communicate with them and to discern their motives.

Thai naval and military authorities repeatedly denied that the boat people were mistreated.

The issue has prompted the Thai government to seek cooperation from other countries in the region who face the same concerns and the United Nations refugee agency to help find a solution to deal with the problem at its root cause.

The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier brushed aside claims that the illegal migrants were at risk of being persecuted in their country, saying the sea-borne Rohingya migrants coming to Thailand in increasing numbers are economic migrants, not persons facing persecution in their home country. (TNA)

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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