South East Asian waters have seen an influx of an approximate 8000 Rohingyas – Myanmar's ethnic Muslim minority who face persecution and denied citizenship in their homes forcing a mass exodus of them to flee their land. They now face exclusion at sea as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have denied them access into their borders due to the fear of opening the floodgates to rising costs and difficulties to accommodate thousands of these refugees leaving them floating in cramped boats out in the open sea for weeks now.
Demand End of Abuses in Burma, Access for Refugee Protection
Denial of Rights in Burma, Bangladesh Lead to Trafficking and Dangerous Sea Voyages
JAKARTA, 27 May 2015 – The Myanmar government’s passage of a controversial new “population control” law is yet another in a long line of restrictive and illegal measures as part of a policy of persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya population, ASEAN lawmakers said today. Rooted in Myanmar’s rising Buddhist-nationalist extremism, the Population Control Act will likely be used to enforce targeted reproductive restrictions against vulnerable minorities.
International pressure is building on Bangladesh and Myanmar to take urgent measures to save boatloads of stranded asylum seekers in danger of death by drowning or starvation in the Bay of Bengal. The ramshackle boats, thought to be loaded with Riphab refugees from Thailand, are organized by people smugglers, who prey on the migrants, often selling them into virtual slavery if they manage to make landfall undetected.
The world is aghast at the fact that up to 8000 members of the Rohingya people of Myanmar have ended up adrift in leaky overcrowded boats having to fight for food and being forced to drink their own urine. They have been shipped from port to port while the governments of Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh argue over who is responsible for them and the government of Myanmar acts as if the problem is nothing to do with it. The real scandal is that almost 1 million people can be denied their right to citizenship in Myanmar and held in what are effectively prison camps under armed guard.
The boat people from the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh has become a hot potato among the Southeast Asian countries. Prachatai talked with Vivian Tan, the spokesperson of the the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Regional Office in Bangkok, about the role of UNHCR in the issue.
JAKARTA, 21 May 2015 – ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights today welcomed the decision by Indonesia and Malaysia to provide temporary shelter to 7,000 migrants stranded at sea, but continued to demand that regional leaders address the state-sponsored persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar that lies at the root of the mass exodus. “Temporary shelter is better than floating coffins, but this agreement is far from what is needed to combat the growing crisis,” said APHR Chairperson Charles Santiago, a member of parliament in Malaysia.
13 May 2015 -- Southeast Asian governments must step up urgent search and rescue efforts to ensure that thousands of people stranded in boats are not left in dire circumstances and at risk of death, Amnesty International said, as another boat carrying hundreds of people thought to be migrants and asylum seekers in desperate conditions is currently awaiting rescue off the Thai coast.
(BANGKOK)—Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia should immediately coordinate search and rescue operations for Rohingya asylum seekers and possible survivors of trafficking from Myanmar and Bangladesh who are stranded at sea, Fortify Rights said today. The governments of these three countries should open their borders to asylum seekers and provide survivors with access to asylum procedures, protection from detention and forced returns, and freedom of movement.