Guideline to tackle Rohingya problem

Published: 7/03/2009 at 08:22 PM
Thailand and the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have agreed to jointly introduce a handbook for screening Bengalis from the Rohingya boat people.

Speaking after meeting with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said in their efforts to resolve the Rohingya problem swiftly, Thai agencies will introduce a handbook for officials interviewing these people and wanted the UNHCR to supply all the needed information to Thailand so that a proper criteria could be designed for it.

The Burmese government also agreed during the 14th Asean summit in Cha-am that it would take back the boat people if they could be identified as being true Bengalis, one of the minority groups in Burma.

Mr Kasit also asked Mr Guterres how the Rohingya in Bangladesh would be taken care of and what measures the Bangladeshi government had in mind on this issue, as the Thai government would have to make use of them as well in handling the 20,000 Rohingya languishing in Thailand.

The ministry will ask Burmese diplomats in Thailand to help interview the Rohingya, the minister said.

The government has asked the UNHCR to look into the history of the Rohingya and the Bengali people to see how they could be politically separated, added the minister.

Thai FM meets UN on Rohingya refugees

March 7, 2009 – 11:14PM
Thailand’s foreign minister Kasit Piromya met the United Nations’ refugee chief to discuss the plight of migrants from Burma washing up on its shores.

The United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) has expressed concern over the fate of hundreds of Rohingya migrants who were rescued in Indian and Indonesian waters in recent months claiming to have been abused by Thai authorities.

But Kasit said he had reassured the High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, that Thailand would tackle the matter with its neighbours.

“I told him that there has been significant progress on the Rohingya problem,” Kasit told reporters following the one-hour meeting at the foreign ministry.

At the recent summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Thailand’s coastal Hua Hin, members agreed to discuss a common approach to illegal immigration in a ministerial meeting to be held April 14-15.

The talks will take place under the “Bali process” – first convened in 2002 to tackle the influx of illegal migrants into the region from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

Australia and Indonesia will co-chair the talks, to be attended by Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India and UNHCR, Kasit said.

Photographs apparently showing the Thai army towing migrants in boats out to sea and lining Rohingya men up on a beach have been published in the international media this year.

Rohingya rescued at sea said they had fled Myanmar for Thailand but were rounded up and taken out to open waters with limited supplies.

Thailand has denied the accusations, while insisting the problem of illegal migration to its shores must be dealt with regionally.

Kasit said Guterres was now travelling to Myanmar to ask for cooperation on the Rohingya Muslim minority, who say they are persecuted by authorities there.

New pagoda opens in Nay Pyi Taw

THOUSANDS of worshippers and guests are expected to attend ceremonies marking the opening of Oatpatasandi Pagoda, a replica of Yangon’s Shwedagon under construction in Nay Pyi Taw.

The 10-day festival started on February 28, and features traditional dance and stage performances before the assembled religious and other guests, as well as a funfair and other attractions, said an official from the pagoda working committee.

Myanmar’s state-run media on Saturday accused the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) of taking instructions from the United States and Britain, noting that the countries’ embassy officials had visited the party’s Yangon headquarters 21 times last month.

US and British diplomats frequent visitors to Myanmar opposition

During their visits, they met with central executive committee members of the party and gave large and small envelops and parcels to the latter,’ said The New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a mouthpiece of Myanmar’s military-run government.
Washington and London have made no secret of their support for the NLD, which won the 1990 general election by a landslide but has been blocked by the military junta from taking power for the past 19 years.
The two governments have also been among the most outspoken in calling for the release of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since May 2003 and has spent 13 of the past 19 years in detention.
Western diplomats based in Yangon, Myanmar’s former capital and largest city, have difficulty obtaining permission to visit Myanmar government officials, most of whom are now based in Naypyitaw, the military’s new capital, 350 kilometres north of Yangon.
To date, no embassies have moved to Naypyitaw. continue