Tuesday 22 January 2013
Thai officials have been selling boat people from Burma to human traffickers, according to reports.
The BBC has found that boats were being intercepted by the Thai navy and police, with deals then made to sell the people on to traffickers who transport them south toward Malaysia.
Thailand’s Army chief called yesterday for a probe into senior army officials suspected of helping to traffic Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar through Thailand and on to a third country.
“This problem has been going on for some time. Anyone found to be involved — especially soldiers — will be prosecuted, expelled and charged with a criminal offense,” army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said.
Thai media reported that a police investigation had found senior army officers, some with ranks as high as major and colonel, were involved in smuggling Rohingyas from Myanmar into Malaysia via Thailand and that the trafficking had been going on for several years.
The UN estimates about 13,000 boat people, including many Rohingya, fled Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh in 2012, a sharp increase from 7,000 a year earlier
Around 800,000 Rohingyas live in Myanmar but are officially stateless and regarded as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants by the Myanmar government.
Hundreds have fled recent sectarian violence involving majority Buddhists in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine.