ARNO Press release: Save Rohingyas from the hands of the human traffickers and greedy exploiters

Press Release
(5th May 2015)

Save Rohingyas from the hands of the human traffickers and greedy exploiters

Arakan Rohingya National Organization expresses its strong concern at recent exhumation on 1 and 4 May of dozens of bodies from mass gravesites near human traffickers’ brutal camps in southern Thailand. More such graves are believed to exist in the region.
Due to institutionalized persecution and ‘atrocity crimes’ against them by the Burmese / Myanmar government and state-sponsored non-state actors or Rakhine / Buddhist extremists, the Muslim Rohingya of Arakan have become desperate to take dangerous voyages to countries within the region in search of safe shelters in particular. Since June 2012 deadly violence and genocidal massacres in Arakan their exodus to Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and other countries have swelled to alarming proportion.

The fleeing boat people were deceived and made captives in brutal jungle camps in southern Thailand where they were pressured, starved and beaten to death by their captors to extort ransom from their families  and relatives in overseas. Some of the victims were sold to work as laborers in fishing boats and farmlands. It is apprehended that hundreds of boat people are currently held up in the sea by the smugglers. The trafficking gangs are understood to have link with powerful people.

It is a disappointment that the Rohingya issue was not discussed in the recent 26th ASEAN Summit held between 26-28 April in Malaysia, although the issue is a regional issue since bulk of refugees had fled to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. The Burmese/Myanmar government is manifestly involved in the human trafficking as its security forces and repressive functionaries have been forcing Rohingyas to leave their hearth and home while extorting money.

We appreciate the Thai Prime Minister’s recent statement and words of warning to get rid of the human traffickers, to unearth their hideouts and victims’ graves, and to bring the culprits to justice. In this connection, it is important that all countries in the region, including Bangladesh, should strengthen cooperation in fighting against human trafficking and smuggling while ensuring the protection of victims.

Meanwhile, the following measures are of most urgent:
1.    UN should constitute a Commission of Inquiry to find out the exact number of death of the trafficked people and extent of their sufferings, and to bring the culprits to justice.
2.    Concerted efforts through enhanced cooperation among the countries in the region – including Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia – and with UN Bodies, such as IOM in order to wipe out human trafficking and smuggling while protecting the victims.
3.    Burmese/Myanmar government is to be held responsible in human trafficking for its Rohingya extermination policies and for compelling the Rohingyas to leave their hearth and home.
4.    ASEAN should discuss the Rohingya issue dynamically for a regional solution.

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