The Nation



Soldiers found guilty of trafficking 'will be punished'

Defence Minister ACM Sukampol Suwannathat yesterday vowed to severely punish soldiers found to have illegally smuggled Rohingya people into Thailand for human-trafficking purposes.

"If found guilty, they deserve harsh punishment because they are unpatriotic," he said.

In less than one month, 1,381 Rohingya people have been arrested in Thailand for illegal entry. On Tuesday, Sukampol urged the Fourth Army Area to launch an investigation into an allegation that some soldiers had engaged in trafficking of the Rohingya.

Sukampol said the investigation was underway but he had not yet received a report.

According to an informed source, the accused officers hold the rank of major, colonel and lieutenant. Their commander, a colonel who heads their unit in Chumphon, is also being investigated.

Sukampol said that during the past three months, Thailand has found 4,000 more Rohingya people on its soil. These illegal aliens have come from Myanmar, where they are a Muslim minority. Many Rohingya have said they were fleeing extreme discrimination and violence in their homeland.

Surapong Kongjantuek, who chairs the Lawyers Council of Thailand's subcommittee on the stateless, migrants, and the displaced, said however that some of these Rohingya had come from Bangladesh.

"I have talked to those who were arrested at the Padang Besar checkpoint," he said.

Meanwhile, Thai people have continued to send food and clothes to the Rohingya who are being detained. Thailand's Muslim spiritual leader has allowed authorities to keep more than 1,000 of the Rohingya at the main mosque in Songkhla, where they are receiving humanitarian assistance.

Comments conditions

Users are solely responsible for their comments.We reserve the right to remove any comment and revoke posting rights for any reason withou prior notice.