Detention and death
Burma Times Correspondent: January 12, 2015
The detention of 98 Rohingyas in Thailand, comes as a reminder of how desperate the minority Muslim community is to escape their homeland.
One of the escapees, a woman of 20 years was found dead inside one of the five trucks, having suffocated in the air tight space. Thai police have said that she also had symptoms of starvation.
This is just a tip of the iceberg. Human rights groups have said that approximately a hundred thousand Rohingyas have left the country since the riots of 2012. Countless have died and most of them have to endure brutal treatment by traffickers and foreign governments alike.
As the desperate Rohingyas look for any way to escape the brutal regime and anti-Muslim vigilantes, human traffickers have turned the situation into their advantage, cashing on the plight of the desperate refugees.
The promised land for this escapees is Malaysia, but the human traffickers make sure the first destination is Thailand. This is a less welcoming country. Rohingyas rescued are left in detention camps, and sometimes the Thai police have been known to sell them back to the human traffickers at a price.
Human traffickers extract the price from Rohingyas by holding them in Thai camps until their families agree to pay a heavy price for their release. Sometimes the traffickers throw them off the boats into the sea to drown. Even then the Rohingyas prefer to take their chances with the traffickers rather than the regime and their anti-Muslim henchmen in the country they regard as their homeland.
The traffickers and the Burmese authorities have come to a convenient agreement between themselves. As the winter season approaches, and the generally ferocious sea at the Bay of Bengal loses some of its brutality, which is not saying much, business gets booming. The security forces push Rohingyas into the sea into their rickety boats and the traffickers lie in wait for them. At this point, the traffickers make an investment by paying the security forces.
The traffickers then take them aboard and ask them to communicate their families for money. Until the hefty sum of almost $3,000 is paid, the Rohingyas continue to face harassment. This generally means confinement to the brutal camps in the jungles of southern Thailand. Sometimes, as this case in the Hua Sai district of Nakhon Si Thammarat province along the Gulf of Thailand, the Thai police comes in and rescues the victims. They additionally extract a price from the trafficking mafia, and in some cases they are sold back. In other cases, it means the smuggling ring knows to pay the Thai police beforehand to avoid such a situation. This is a classic case of police corruption in most third world countries. But here the product is a human being. In the end everybody wins out, except the desperate refugees.
As this article is written, countless Rohingya men, women and children perish either in the custody of the traffickers or the Thai police. Since the situation has gotten rougher at home since 2012, for the first time, women and children have continued to accompany the men on this perilious journey. But at this moment looks like any place is better than home.