Irrawaddy:Junta Promises to Address Rohingya Exodus

By:SAW YAN NAING

Burma’s No 2 leader, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, has promised the Thai military supreme commander during an official visit to Burma that authorities will try to stem the flow of Rohingya refugees who try to reach neighboring countries illegally, according to the Thai News Agency (TNA).

Burma’s No 2 leader, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, has promised the Thai military supreme commander during an official visit to Burma that authorities will try to stem the flow of Rohingya refugees who try to reach neighboring countries illegally, according to the Thai News Agency (TNA).

A Thai delegation led by Supreme Commander Gen Songkitti Jaggabatara visited Naypyidaw, the Burmese capital, on Monday.

A wounded Rohingya migrant is treated by a Thai nurse at the provincial hospital in Ranong province, southern Thailand, on Tuesday. A new boatload of the 78 ethnic Rohingya migrants was detained in Thailand, several with lacerations, burns and other wounds they said were inflicted by Burmese soldiers. (Photo: AP)

Gen Songkitti was quoted by TNA that Maung Aye agreed with Thailand’s request to address the issue of Rohingya Muslims who have sought refuge in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, often risking dangerous journeys by sea in small boats.

Maung Aye said authorities will try to prevent the Rohingya from leaving Burma for other countries.

Burma’s state-run newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar, mentioned the visit by the Thai supreme commander, but disclosed no details about the meeting.

Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera television reported on Tuesday that a boat with 78 ethnic Rohingya migrants was detained in Thailand. Some Rohingya had lacerations, burns and other wounds.

According to the report, the migrants fled Burma about a month ago, and the Burmese military intercepted their vessel as it sailed south toward Thailand.

A Rohingya, speaking through a translator, said the Burmese military beat them with sticks. Others said the soldiers tried to set their boat on fire, and they showed severe body burns.

A senior Thai navy official told The Associated Press news agency that the migrants would be repatriated once their boat was fixed. “We will send them back through legal channels,” he said.

On Monday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that it is still awaiting a response from the Thai government one week after it requested access to Rohingya refugees in Thailand to examine whether they are in need of international protection.

NGOs have alleged that up to 300 Rohingya are missing after the Thai navy denied them refuge and turned them back out to sea.

According to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is estimated that up to 20,000 illegal Rohingya migrants have entered Thailand over recent years and remain in the country.

Last week, Thailand offered to host a regional conference to discuss the mass migration of Rohingya refugees.

Foreign Ministry officials met with envoys from India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Burma to discuss the exodus of the Rohingya from Burma, where they say they are persecuted economically and denied basic rights of citizenship.

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