Save the Rohingya refugees in Thailand
postbag Bangkok Post 5 April 2008
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said after emerging from a two-hour meeting of the National Security Council on March 28 that the Royal Thai Navy is looking for a deserted island to place the Rohingya refugees currently living in Thailand.
He expressed his intention to show the Rohingyas that ”life here [in Thailand] will be difficult”. He did not provide any proof of wrongdoing or crime the Rohingyas may have committed here, for which he has decided to banish this ethnic community to a deserted isle.
After denying the right of Rohingyas to citizenship in Burma and conducting genocidal operations against us, Burma’s military rulers have turned the Rohingya into a stateless sub-human community, denying us our right to live in Arakan, where we have been living for centuries in peace. Today, uprooted from Arakan, over 1.5 million Rohingyas are roaming in different countries as gypsy human beings.
Now the Thai prime minister wants to fulfil the unmet wish of Burma’s ruling gen erals (to kill those hapless Rohingyas who escaped their clutches), by deporting them to a solitary island where possibly either the Thai forces or the Burmese army will be able to massacre them beyond the notice of the international community.
The Thai prime minister says Westerners are overly critical of Burma and he has found new respect for the ruling generals after learning that they meditate like good Buddhists.
He is thus conniving in the series of atrocities the Burmese junta are commiting, even against revered Buddhist monks.
On March 25, the Thai army raided Burmese opposition groups in Mae Sot. They raided the homes of three Karen National Union leaders and the office of one Burmese student group. Many exiled groups and community organisations in Mae Sot have closed their offices for security reasons.
The prime minister’s statement has sent waves of shock and grief throughout the Rohingya community. Through decades-long political oppression, economic exploitation, social degradation and cultural slavery, Burma’s military rulers have turned the Rohingyas into a powerless, defenceless and voiceless, crippled community.
Rohingyas have been crying in the corner and dying in silence for decades. Now, if the international community will not come forward to save us from deportation to this ”island of death”, it will add another notch to the scale of tyranny being committed against the Rohingyas.
Therefore, to draw international attention, we, the 1.5 million Rohingya men, women and children in exile, will resort to a hunger strike until death at the premises of the United Nations missions around the world, to save our Rohingya brethren in Thailand.
We also appeal to the people of Thailand and Thai human rights groups, to understand our plight and come forward to prevail upon their prime minister to withdraw his decision.