February 07, 2013 00:00 By Atapoom Ongkulna, Narong Nuan
House Standing Committee on State Security chairman Weng Tojirakan yesterday discussed the Rohingya migrant issue and recommended talks with Myanmar to repatriate them or contact the United Nations to find a third country to take them in.
National Human Rights Commission’s head of violation inspection division, Kesarin Tiangsakul, said it found many women and children among the Rohingya migrants who aimed to work in Malaysia and Indonesia, using Thailand as a transit point.
After they were arrested – and Thai law could detain them for six months – the government had to find a solution to the problem because these people couldn’t be repatriated elsewhere. It also had to provide them with care on a humanitarian basis, Kesarin said.
Kesarin said Songkhla’s Immigration Police Bureau only had a meal budget of Bt45 per detainee per day, or Bt15 per meal, and they had to depend on kind-hearted donors.
Pol Lt Col Paisit Sangkhahapong, an expert at the Department of Special Investigation's anti-human trafficking centre, said DSI investigation initially found most Rohingya people were willing to migrate while there were Thais and foreigners involved in smuggling them into the Kingdom. These smugglers then applied deception, force and took advantage of the refugees.
Paisit suggested that the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs should negotiate with Myanmar to take these people back, or talk with the UN and UNHCR to send them back to their origin or to a third country.
In Narathiwat’s Sungai Kolok district, the combined security force yesterday raided six locations suspected of housing Rohingya migrants and arrested six suspects at one location. They were a roti shop owner identified only as Nurusalam, 55, and five other Rohingya and Myanmar people.
The six locations were allegedly run by a Rohingya trade network led by Yusuf Ali who reportedly bought the Rohingya from agencies in Ranong.