Friday, January 16, 2009

Shocking Story about Burmese Refugees

People in the sand. can you believe it?

Luxury holidays and human tragedy side-by-side.

Every once in a while we have to hear about some stories of Burmese refugees who die or nearly die because of their quest to freedom. I find it scandalous. And the way the Thai officials deal with the Burmese, I find it appalling too. It feels as if Thailand is acting as the regional bully just because it is clearly richer than Cambodia, Laos and especially Burma. Today, I read about the Rohingya, a primarily Muslim people that come from the border area of Burma and Bangladesh and that are one of the many peoplesthat the Burmese regime is persecuting. They simply try to escape - some of them to Thailand - by boat. What the treatment they get when they arrive in Thailand?

No, they are not logs, they are humans!

Read here: (the story is originally from South China Morning Post (English language Hongkong newspaper)

Pictures from the BBC article on another incident.

They stranged on Koh Similan, a diving paradise for tourists. They were immediately round up, their hands tied behind their back and they had to lie down on the sand WITHOUT being allowed to move for 5 hours (!!!). If they'd move, they'd get whipped. Have a look at the pictures, it looks like the concentration camps in Nazi Germany. Apparently the practice is then to just put the refugees out into international waters and leave them there with nothing but a paddle (not much food and water).

Bikini and refugees.

I have to say I am really shocked and appalled at this treatment. Thailand is not a signatory to the UNHCR convention on refugees (which would make it possible for political refugees to ask for asylum; Cambodia IS by the way) so the refugees are basically worth nothing here. And that's how they get treated. Apparently Thailand likes to play the regional policeman and play with defenseless people's lives. A disgrace. I dont want to let this reflect on my opinion about my chosen country of residence (Thailand) but I find it very hard not to. Apparently we are a nice Buddhist country with lots of friendly smiling people. My a**! The dirt-poor province of Aceh in Indonesia and the Andaman Islands of India have to take them. I told all this to my classmates, they shrugged and walked off.


Anonymous said...

When Vietnamese boat people fled their country 30 years ago, some were preyed upon by Thai or Malaysian pirates, raped.. robbed and murdered for their meager possessions. The luckier ones were put into refugee camps to be processed and shipped off to western countries willing to take them. Cambodians fleeing the Khmer Rouge and Karens persecution in Burma have lived in Thai refugee camps for decades. Sadly, nothing ever changes. - Ian

BB said...

Thank you so much for your comment Ian. The Thais attitude towards foreigerns, especially the poor ones - stinks. I didnt know about the past but it doesnt surprise me. The treatment goes like the food chain. The western states are very picky about Thais and then they probably think, wow we are the kings now in our backyard at least so lets treat these possession-less people like s**t. I heard that the police say they are a "national threat". My a**.

BB said...

oh...about 2 hours after posting I saw it on BBC news too. Good that the international media are picking this story up. Thailand in a bad light on BBC - AGAIN!

BB said...

one more thing. I have been to the burmese border area in mae sot and tak province before. a police barrier every 10km, all the burmese get checked. and I have also seen the biggest karen camp in tak province. looks very basic. at least they are in safety but they are still treated like minor humans.