The Never Endig Persecution of the Royhinga

Jane Perlez of the New York Times, who for so long was the Bureau Chief in Afghanistan, is now based out of Beijing — and covers most of South East Asia.  She has been bringing detailed stories of the persecution and flight of the Myanmar Royhinga to the front page of the times.  Today’s was especially harrowing.

More than 2,000 Rohingya are believed to be missing at sea, presumed drowned, since June 2012, when the violence against them first erupted in Rakhine, said Chris Lewa, coordinator of the Arakan Project, a human rights group specializing in the Rohingya. In all, about 80,000 Rohingya have left Myanmar by sea since then, Ms. Lewa said.

Run out of Myanmar by rabid Buddhist violence they try to get to Malasia, where their Islam faith is in the majority, but typically have to pass through Thailand to make the journey.

Burma ROHINGYAmap-artboard_1

Despite Thailand’s long history of absorbing refugees from conflicts in nearby countries like Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as members of other ethnic groups from Myanmar, the country has declined to grant the Rohingya temporary shelter or basic services. The government refuses to assess their requests for asylum, human rights groups say, instead subjecting them to detention so harsh that some die in custody. Arguments by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that Thailand should treat the Rohingya like other refugees have failed to convince the Thai government, the agency said.

Instead, the government has authorized what it calls “soft” deportation of the Rohingya: moving them out of detention cells, placing them in wooden boats at the southern port of Ranong, and sending them out into the Andaman Sea. There, they are picked up again by smugglers who, human rights groups charge, are often in league with Thai officials. Those who cannot pay ransom for passage to Malaysia are finally forced into indentured servitude on Thai plantations and fishing vessels, rights groups say.

NY Times: Perlez