Islamic group proposes shelter

More than 800 Rohingya migrants detained in Thailand should be given shelter and sent to a third country rather than being returned to Myanmar, an Islamic group said yesterday.

  • Published: 18/01/2013 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Islamic spiritual leader Chularatchamontri Aziz Pitakkumpon cries while speaking to police about the Rohingya migrants in Hat Yai district of Songkhla province yesterday.

The Central Islamic Council of Thailand said it would propose the central mosque of Songkhla province be used as a main shelter for Muslim migrants who have not been charged with any criminal offences.

Police detention centres have become overcrowded due to the large number of Rohingya migrants being detained, the council said.

Several hundred Rohingya have been detained in Songkhla, Narathiwat, Trang, Pattani and Phangnga during the past couple of weeks after they attempted to pass through Thailand into Malaysia.

Fifty-two more were detained yesterday by marine police at a deserted house in Ban Tam Ma Lang Nua village of Muang district in Satun, a province bordering Songkhla.

Two of the migrants detained were women and one was a child.

The latest detention brings the total number of Rohingya held to 949 as of yesterday.

Two Rohingya migrants were earlier found in the forest on the Songkhla and Satun border.

Local administration authorities, meanwhile, are searching for more migrants believed to have gone into hiding after the previous crackdowns.

The Central Islamic Council also encouraged Muslim nations, international organisations and the United Nations agencies on human rights to discuss with a third-party country the possibility of granting asylum to the Rohingya migrants.

The council also called on these organisations to pressure the Myanmar government to recognise the citizenship of other Rohingya people who remain in the country.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the ministry expected to come up with a conclusion on the Rohingya migrant issue this week.

It would then discuss with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees the best course of action.

He said the government would provide assistance to the migrants on a humanitarian basis and would not extradite them until the process of verifying their nationality is completed.

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Writer: Wichayant Boonchote
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