A four-year-old has his thumbprint taken at Chalong yesterday
Photo by phuketwan.com
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By Chutima Sidasathian
Sunday, March 24, 2013
PHUKET: A boat carrying 39 Rohingya refugees arrived north of Phuket soon after 107 landed on and around Phuket yesterday.
A third boat containing 69 more Rohingya is expected to appear off
Thailand's coast at any moment - unless it has been lost at sea.
All three boats were apprehended by the Indian Navy off the coast of the
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an Indian protectorate. The 215 Rohingya
were set free and ''helped on'' by the Indian Navy on March 19.
Phuketwan talked to all 96 Rohingya who landed yesterday in two
groups at Koh Lon, a small island off Phuket's southern coast near
Chalong, a well-known harbor for yachts and tourist day-trippers.
Their names are listed below.
Another 11 Rohingya (eight men, one woman and two children) from the
same boat were apprehended by local police from Vichit, south of Phuket
City, after they swam all the way to Phuket in fear that the boat was
Disturbingly, a few of the listed Rohingya have disappeared while in the custody of Thai authorities.
Forty-four passengers stuck with the flimsy boat which made it to the
Lon island pier while the other Rohingya swam ashore to a nearby Lon
Soon after, local fishermen and residents transported the swimming passengers to the pier to join their fellow-travellers.
The entire group was then transferred to Chalong Police Station where
their names and thumbprints were taken and where they were given more
food and water.
The adult male Rohingya were behind bars at Phuket Immigration
Headquarters in Phuket City today while four women and 20 children were
in the care of a Phuket family refuge.
Managers at the centre sent the 20 children to Vachira Phuket Hospital to have their status as under-18 minors verified today.
The Royal Thai Navy was not involved in apprehending or processing the
group. Phuket Marine Police arrived to catalogue the Rohingya on Lon
island before transferring them ashore.
Their boat, a hulk that had taken water below decks, was hauled away.
North of Phuket at Takuapa, the 39 Rohingya (including two women) in
yesterday's second Andaman coast arrival were being held and questioned
by local police.
Most Immigration centres across southern Thailand - and especially the
facility in Phang Nga - are already jam-packed with Rohingya men.
About 1700 Rohingya were taken into custody by Thai authorities
following raids on people-trafficking camps. Those raids came with the
revelation by Phuketwan that boats which once carried only men and boys were now carrying entire families.
Yesterday's Phuket boat contained children as young as four, a man aged
73, and a disabled man with a withered leg who can only walk with the
aid of a stick.
The appearance of women and children, including the very old and the
very young, indicates that levels of persecution and oppression in the
Burmese government's ethnic cleansing campaign are becoming unbearable.
One of the passengers, Mamod Donhok. 30, said: ''There were about 10,000
people in the camp outside Sittwe, in squalid conditions. We are not
allowed to work. There are serious health care problems and little aid
''We left on the boats together on January 22 and were apprehended on
January 26. They kept us at Nicobar island until March 19, then gave us
food and fuel and let us sail. We want to go to Malaysia.''
Mamod left his wife Schida, 26, and three young children in the Sittwe displaced persons camp.
The race-hate campaign being conducted against Rohingya Muslims in
Rakhine state since October now appears to have spread south to the city
of Meikhtila, where Muslims and Buddhists are killing each other.