Immediate release on 18 Jan 2013
Press Release on the Rohingas Posted on 18 January 2013
It has been reported that a number of Rohingas are being held in custody by the authorities in various provinces in the South and there is a tendency that more of the Rohingas will be found in other places. Based on our initial information, these people have fled from dangers in Burma. They are seeking a better livelihood and security since the Rohingas are a Muslim ethnic minority in Burma and they have not been accepted by other groups of people who observe other religions. Such discrimination is tantamount to being a breach of the right to religion. And that the Burmese state denies citizenship of its own people is an egregious violation of basic human rights making them become stateless people. And it has led to rampant discrimination and human rights abuse.
The Rohingas have fled from wars and inhumane treatment to various other countries including Thailand. In many instances, it has been found that they are vulnerable to become victims of human trafficking rings which are exploiting their statelessness. As the Rohingas are being deported by the Thai authorities, it would be an act of pushing them back to confront deaths.
The Muslim Attorney Centre Foundation (MAC) is a not-for-profit-organization giving legal aid to people affected by injustices and human rights violation. We are deeply saddened by the plight of the Rohingas seeking refuge in Thailand. We commend the officials for treating them with humanity as per international humanitarian principles. And we praise the public who have made kind donations and support to help fellow human beings in distress. MAC would like to call on the Thai government and concerned agencies to consider the following proposals;
- In light of international customary laws and Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) to which Thailand is a state party, the Thai government should put to a halt any policy to deport the Rohingas to Burma, as long as, any lead exists that they may face killings and human rights violation as well as ethnic cleansing back in Burma.
- An effort should be made to raise awareness among the National Human Rights Commission, academics and civil society to make them realize the problems faced by the Rohinga refugees in Thailand. They should participate in shaping policy and guidelines as to how to treat the Rohingas based on humanitarian principle and without any racial and religious prejudices.
- While they are being held in custody in various facilities, the Thai authorities and officials should see to it that the Rohingas are able to practice their religious activities properly to their teaching. Any obstacle to access to basic necessities to enable them to live their life sufficiently should be removed and they should be assisted to receive proper medical treatment.
- The Thai government should mete out effective measures to prevent and suppress the violation of the 2008 Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act and to campaign for an end of human trafficking in Thailand, particularly of the Rohingas who are victims in this case.
- The Thai government should seek immediate consultation with fellow ASEAN country members to find collective solutions to the problem as it reflects the vision of the ASEAN governments to make possible peace, security, safety and stability in the region.
Detail contact: Lawyer Anukul Awaepute Tel./Fax 0-7341-1486, 08-1898-7408 Picture courtesy of Fu-ad Mahama, PPS photographer team