(part of The Darkness Visible series)
(Sixty-two Under The Age of Fifteen Including Three Babies)
As the genocide continues to drive the Rohingya population of Burma to desperate measures the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party continues to exploit their helpless victims. In recent months the RNDP has been taking money and other bribes from the Rohingya in exchange for an apparent way out of the genocide the RNDP is perpetrating. However in most cases the RNDP never truly gets the Rohingya to the safety of a host country. In most cases the Rohingya who pay for a way out are turned over to Myanmar police or dumped into the waiting arms of human traffickers.
On Thursday (January 10th) the Thai government raided a hidden transit camp for human trafficking on the Thai border with Burma. Upon entering the camp the Thai officials found that the traffickers where holding captive 366 Rohingya refugees. Like many other camps of the such the traffickers were only interested in treating the refugees as human cargo. There was little food and little water for the hundreds of victims.
Among the Rohingya were 62 children under the age of 15. This group of children out of the original 366 also included three babies under the age of one years old. Among them were also 11 women. Yet the human traffickers had refused to offer any assistance to their victims.
The raid began after two Rohingya "boat people" were purchased from the traffickers for for 95,000 baht (3,138.94 USD). This led to the Thai military arriving some time over night. However the raid has not ended. The Rohingya captives are still being held at the camp as the Thai officials record their names.
Thai Public Health medical teams arrived to give assistance to the captives once the camp was secured. This gives those of us on the outside the impression that the Thai officials do not intend to deport the Rohingya back to Myanmar. However there is no guarantee due to the long history Thailand has with its handling of Rohingya in the past.
(Women And Children Deported By Thai Police)
In the past the Rohingya have been deported regardless of their age and gender. Children and women are more likely to be dropped off in Thailand by their traffickers since the demand for Rohingya slave labor mainly applies to able bodied young men. This makes younger Rohingya and women more apt to be turned over to police or worse. In other cases the children and women are turned over to sex traffickers.
At best the Rohingya in these camps can hope for an opportunity to make their way to boats and wish to be sent adrift. For many the chance to get out to sea offers the hope that they might make it to safety. In reality the dream of making their way to Malaysia (a country that barely treats them better than Thailand) is as far from reality as they are from freedom. The boats they are often put aboard are more than likely broken, under stocked with water and food, and will often sink at sea. The fact is that nearly half of all the "boat people" of Southeast Asia die at sea before ever coming in sight of their "promised land".
For those of you on Twitter this "rescue" by Thai officials offers you the chance to take action and scream on behalf of the Rohingya. By sending relentless tweets to the accounts listed below we can raise our voices so that those in a position of power can affect change for these 366 Rohingya. We can unite as one to tell those in power that this is their opportunity to offer hope instead of damning these Rohingya to death.
Please do your part and scream.
@USEmbassyBKK - US Embassy in Thailand
@PM_Abhisit - Former PM of Thailand: Abhisit Vejjajiva
@UN - United Nations
@Refugees - United Nations Refugee Agency
@SybellaWilkes - Senior Communications Officer UNHCR: Sybella Wilkes
@UN_Spokesperson - UN Spokesperson
@hrw - Human Rights Watch
@UNrightswire - United Nations Human Rights Office
@KenRoth - Executive Director, Human Rights Watch: Kenneth Roth
@ukinthailand - British Embassy in Thailand