Police probe dumping of 59 Rohingya on island off Satun

Police probe dumping of 59 Rohingya on island off Satun

Rohingya migrants sit on the rocks by a beach on Koh Dong off Satun on Saturday before being picked up by a Royal Thai Navy boat. (Photo: Satun Public Relations Office)
Rohingya migrants sit on the rocks by a beach on Koh Dong off Satun on Saturday before being picked up by a Royal Thai Navy boat. (Photo: Satun Public Relations Office)

Police are trying to find out who abandoned 59 Rohingya boat people, including five children, on an island off mainland Satun - and told them they were in Malaysia.

Assistant national police chief Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn has been assigned to travel to the southern province to help investigators shed light on the case.

Deputy police chief Roy Inkhapairoj, who gave Pol Lt Gen Surachate the travel order, said police had no clue about who transported them into Thai waters.

They could be the victims of human traffickers, said Pol Gen Roy,  director of the Child Protection and Anti-Human Trafficking Centre.

A Royal Thai Navy coast guard boat found the 59 Rohingya  — 31 men, 23 women and five children — on Koh Dong, about 20 kilometres from Koh Lipe, on Saturday after a tip-off.

Satun governor Ekkarath Leesen said on Saturday preliminary questioning indicated they had travelled by boat from Bangladesh and were headed for Malaysia.

The boat dropped them on the island about a week ago and then sailed away, he said, adding that the Rohingya will be sent back to Bangladesh. 

Navy spokesman Pokkrong Monthatphalin explained on Sunday they had left Bangladesh on a trawler and the skipper ordered them to alight on the island after telling them that Koh Dong was in Malaysian territory.

Vice Adm Pokkrong said all were transported by the Tor 996 patrol boat to mainland Satun and were charged with illegal entry into Thailand at Langu police station in Langu district. They were later detained  at the 436th Company of the Border Patrol Police in Muang district, he added.

He said the navy would step up patrols on the Andaman Sea and islands near the border with Malaysia as Thailand expected more boat people sailing to the neighbouring country.

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