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Refoulement, push-backs and rejection at borders

Individual Documents

Title: Thai authorities say 700 Rohingya who entered Thailand illegally will be sent back to Myanmar
Date of publication: 11 January 2013
Description/subject: "...Thai authorities said Friday that about 700 people from Myanmar’s beleaguered Rohingya minority who had entered Thailand illegally were found in two separate raids in the country’s south and that they would be sent back to Myanmar. Police and government officials found 307 Rohingya asylum seekers during a search Friday at a warehouse in Sadao district in Songkhla province, police Maj. Col. Thanusin Duangkaewngam said. On Thursday, nearly 400 Rohingya were found in a raid in the same district..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: AP via "Washington Post"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 13 January 2013

Title: “The Government Could Have Stopped This” - Sectarian Violence and Ensuing Abuses in Burma’s Arakan State
Date of publication: 01 August 2012
Description/subject: Summary: "In June 2012, deadly sectarian violence erupted in western Burma’s Arakan State between ethnic Arakan Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims (as well as non-Rohingya Muslims). The violence broke out after reports circulated that on May 28 an Arakan woman was raped and killed in the town of Ramri allegedly by three Muslim men. Details of the crime were circulated locally in an incendiary pamphlet, and on June 3, a large group of Arakan villagers in Toungop stopped a bus and brutally killed 10 Muslims on board. Human Rights Watch confirmed that local police and soldiers stood by and watched the killings without intervening. On June 8, thousands of Rohingya rioted in Maungdaw town after Friday prayers, destroying Arakan property and killing an unknown number of Arakan residents. Sectarian violence then quickly swept through the Arakan State capital, Sittwe, and surrounding areas. Mobs from both communities soon stormed unsuspecting villages and neighborhoods, killing residents and destroying homes, shops, and houses of worship. With little to no government security present to stop the violence, people armed themselves with swords, spears, sticks, iron rods, knives, and other basic weapons, taking the law into their own hands. Vast stretches of property from both communities were razed. The government claimed that 78 people were killed—an undoubtedly conservative figure—while more than 100,000 people were displaced from their homes. The hostilities were fanned by inflammatory anti-Muslim media accounts and local propaganda. During the period after the rape and killing was reported and before the violence broke out, tensions had risen dramatically in Arakan State. However, local residents from each community told Human Rights Watch that the Burmese authorities provided no protection and did not appear to have taken any special measures to preempt the violence. On June 10, fearing the unrest would spread beyond the borders of Arakan State, Burmese President Thein Sein announced a state of emergency, transferring civilian power to the Burmese army in affected areas of the state. At this point, a wave of concerted violence by various state security forces against Rohingya communities began. For example, Rohingya in Narzi quarter—the largest Muslim area in Sittwe, home to 10,000 Muslims—described “THE GOVERNMENT COULD HAVE STOPPED THIS” 2 how Arakan mobs burned down their homes on June 12 while the police and paramilitary Lon Thein forces opened fire on them with live ammunition. In northern Arakan State, the Nasaka border guard force, the army, police, and Lon Thein committed killings, mass arrests, and looting against Rohingya. In the aftermath, local Arakan leaders and members of the Arakan community in Sittwe have called for the forced displacement of the Muslim community from the city, while local Buddhist monks have initiated a campaign of exclusion, calling on the local Buddhist population to neither befriend nor do business with Muslims..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Format/size: pdf (630K-original; 575K-OBL version)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs13/The_Government_Could_Have_Stopped_this-HRW-red.pdf
Date of entry/update: 02 August 2012

Title: Burma's Human Rights Blind Spot: A Compendium on Violence Against Rohingyas in June/July 2012
Date of publication: 25 July 2012
Description/subject: Compendium of 30 or so reports... Introduction: "By virtue of its geography (great river valleys, plains, plateaus and mountain chains) and history (migration and settlement along the rivers and in the uplands) Burma is a multicultural crossroads of Southeast and South Asia. Peoples, ways of life and religions from the Indian subcontinent, Himalayas, Indo-China and beyond, have intermingled in a land which became a nation under British colonization and has struggled with ethnic identities ever since. Although the vast majority of inhabitants are Buddhists, with the overwhelmingly Buddhist Burmans the largest ethnic group, nearly all other religions are represented in the population. Tolerance and cosmopolitanism were among Burma's strengths in times of peace. Unfortunately, military rule and the promulgation of ethnic-majority nationalism have been in effect since General Ne Win's takeover in 1962, and even in the post-British democracy of U Nu, establishment of Buddhism as a state religion appeared to sideline Burma's people of other faiths. Ne Win's dictatorship favored the assimilation of Buddhist groups like the Rakhines, Mons and Shans into a Burman nationalism, discouraging those peoples' knowledge of their own languages, civilized history and cultures. Targeting Christians and Muslims, Ne Win's armed forces often burned churches and mosques, torturing and killing pastors and imams. In western Burma's Arakan State (aka Rakhine State), military rule brought decreased rights for the Buddhist Rakhine people and absolute denial of citizenship for the Muslim Rohingya people. The mass exodus of Rohingyas fleeing repression to neighboring Bangladesh took place in 1978 and 1991, resulting in tens of thousands of refugees cordoned off in squalid camps in Bangladesh or permanently stranded overseas (Gulf States, Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Thailand.) As Rohingyas left the northern Arakan region, particularly Buthidaung and Maungdaw, out of fear of extreme repression, Burma's post-1988 junta settled Buddhist Rakhine and Burman villagers in the area -- a scenario guaranteed to make both groups resent each other. Rohingyas who remained were often preyed upon by border security forces and other military personnel, and were severely restricted in rights such as marriage and travel. Military rape and other violent victimization of Rohingyas was well-documented by respected international human rights organizations..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Project Maje
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 25 July 2012

Title: Burning Homes, Sinking Lives - A situation report on violence against stateless Rohingya in Myanmar and their refoulement from Bangladesh
Date of publication: 02 July 2012
Description/subject: "...this report documents the severity of the human rights abuses suffered by Rohingya within Myanmar – including mass violence, killings and attacks, the burning and destruction of property, arbitrary arrests, detention and disappearances, the deprivation of emergency healthcare and humanitarian aid. Such human rights abuses are being carried out with impunity by civilians and agents of the state alike. The organised and widespread nature of this state sponsored violence raises serious questions of crimes against humanity being committed by Myanmar. This report also documents the refoulement of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh and related human rights violations, including the push-back of boats carrying Rohingya into dangerous waters and the failure to provide refuge, shelter and humanitarian aid to those fleeing persecution. Historically, the Rohingya have faced acute discrimination and human rights abuse in Myanmar, and Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution to Bangladesh have faced severe hardships including the lack of humanitarian aid, shelter and security. This present crisis is a tragic reminder of the vulnerabilities of stateless people when their countries of habitual residence and the international community fail to protect them. Urgent action is required to end the violence, protect the victims and bring those responsible to justice. Of equal importance is the need for a long-term process of reinstating Myanmar nationality to Rohingya who were arbitrarily deprived of a nationality in 1982, resolving ethnic conflicts and protecting the human rights and freedoms of Rohingya within Myanmar and in other countries. The Equal Rights Trust makes the following urgent and long-term recommendations to the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh and to the UNHCR and international community..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: The Equal Rights Trust
Format/size: pdf (1.4MB-OBL version; 2.26MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.equalrightstrust.org/ertdocumentbank/The%20Equal%20Rights%20Trust%20-%20Burning%20Homes%...
Date of entry/update: 03 July 2012

Title: An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to the President of Myanmar (Burma) and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Date of publication: 14 June 2012
Description/subject: "...the AHRC strongly urges you to communicate with one another so as to open the border immediately to allow for the movement of people seeking shelter from the violence, and to make appropriate arrangements for the temporary settlement of persons fleeing the parts of Myanmar affected by violence. Furthermore, in order to enable the provision of adequate food and health services to the affected populations, both of your governments are requested to cooperate with one another so as to provide complete, unimpeded, secure access to international agencies at the earliest possible opportunity, in order that these agencies can assess the situation and make arrangements for the necessary provision of emergency relief supplies..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Format/size: pdf (80K)
Date of entry/update: 14 June 2012

Title: More arrests and movement restrictions: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District
Date of publication: 30 November 2010
Description/subject: "Civilians in Dooplaya District continue to be impacted by conflict between the Tatmadaw and armed Karen groups, who have increased fighting in the area since November 7th 2010. Villagers in the Palu area have left on multiple occasions in the last six days, and continue to report that they are struggling to complete harvests and protect homes from looting while also fearing conflict and conflict related abuses. KHRG continues to document movement restrictions and arbitrary arrests, including the arrest and detention of six more villagers over the last three days."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG #2010-B15)
Format/size: pdf (23K)
Date of entry/update: 30 November 2010

Title: Civilians at risk from continued SPDC-DKBA conflict in Dooplaya District
Date of publication: 14 November 2010
Description/subject: "Civilians in Dooplaya district continue to be at risk from conflict between the Tatmadaw and the DKBA. Civilians from Way Lay report that one resident has been wounded by a mortar during an exchange on November 14th 2010 in Kawkareik Township. Other residents of Waw Lay have attempted to seek refuge in nearby Phop Phra District, Tak Province, Thailand. A villager that spoke to KHRG a few hours after the shelling reports that at least some villagers attempting to cross into Thailand are being prevented form doing so by the Royal Thai Army."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG #2010-B11)
Format/size: pdf (1.8MB)
Alternate URLs: https://web.archive.org/web/20110131015321/http://www.khrg.org/khrg2010/khrg10b11.pdf
Date of entry/update: 25 November 2010

Title: Functionally Refoulement: Camps in Tha Song Yang District abandoned as refugees bow to pressure
Date of publication: 01 April 2010
Description/subject: "Two temporary refugee camps established during June 2009 in Tha Song Yang District, Tak Province, Thailand, to provide refuge for villagers that fled increased conflict and exploitative abuse in Pa’an District have now been all but entirely abandoned. The camps were home to more than 2,409 refugees as recently as January 2010; over the last two months, the camp populations have dwindled as small groups have departed one by one. On March 31st and April 1st, the last residents of the Nong Bua and Mae U Su sites left in two large groups, of 24 and 102 families respectively. This report details the circumstances of the refugees’ departure, including interviews that indicate refugees left because of a persistent campaign of harassment by soldiers of the Royal Thai Army (RTA), who pressured the refugees to return to Burma in spite of warnings that safe return is not currently possible. The report also details the dangers returned refugees may face, including risks from landmines as well as violent and exploitative abuse by the DKBA and SPDC Army. This section also includes details regarding the death and injury of two young boys that accidentally detonated an unexploded M79 round they found outside the village of Mae La Ah Kee on March 31st 2010. Highlighting the risks returned refugees may face, the boys came from a family that had been forced out of the Mae U Su site by RTA soldiers at the end of the rainy season 2009."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG #2010-F3)
Format/size: html, pdf (522K and 756K - report; 214K and 308K - appendices)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs20/KHRG-2010-04-01-Functionally_Refoulement_Camps_in_Tha_Song_Yang_...


Date of entry/update: 12 October 2010

Title: Obsolete ASEAN (video)
Date of publication: 12 February 2009
Description/subject: 2-part documentary on the abuse, push-backs and deaths of Rohingya boat-people arriving in Thailand, followed by a discussion on how ASEAN could help in such regional situations. The participants in the discussion were Surin Pitsuwan (Secretary-General of ASEAN), Bunn Nagara (Associate Editor of "The Star", Malaysia) and Dr Thitinan Pongsudirak, a Thai political analyst. There were references to the human rights components of the ASEAN Charter and the "Myanmar problem"
Language: English
Source/publisher: Aljazeera (101 EAST)
Format/size: Adobe Flash (2 parts: 22 minutes, 55 seconds, total)
Alternate URLs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMNbLmnKg38 (Part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1ilotE9Wmk (Part 2)
Date of entry/update: 13 February 2009

Title: Myanmar envoy brands boat people 'ugly as ogres'
Date of publication: 11 February 2009
Description/subject: HONG KONG (AFP) "Myanmar's senior official in Hong Kong has described the Rohingya people as "ugly as ogres" in a letter sent to media and foreign officials after a high-profile refugee case highlighted their plight. The country's Consul General Ye Myint Aung told heads of foreign missions in Hong Kong and local newspapers members of the Muslim ethnic group should not be described as being from Myanmar. "In reality, Rohingya are neither Myanmar people nor Myanmar's ethnic group," he wrote, in a letter seen by AFP on Wednesday..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: AFP
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 13 February 2009

Title: More Rohingya survivors tell of Thai abuse (video)
Date of publication: 03 February 2009
Description/subject: "Another group of 200 Rohingya have been rescued off the coast of Sumatra. They tell of mis-treatment at the hands of the Thai military, with 22 dying on board their boat which was set adrift for three weeks without food or supplies. Many are now receiving medical treatment for severe dehydration. Some are in critical condition. Many have sighn of injuries on their bodies. Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen has this report."
Language: English
Source/publisher: AlJazeeraEnglish
Format/size: Adobe Flash (1 minute 53 seconds)
Date of entry/update: 13 February 2009

Title: Rohingya victims of abuse speak out (video)
Date of publication: 29 January 2009
Description/subject: There have been new claims of abuse against a group of muslim Rohingya migrants. They were part of boat people who fled Myanmar, where they face persecution, and ended up in Indonesia after being expelled from Thailand. Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen has spoken to a group of Rohingyas in Indonesia's Aceh province.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Al Jazeera
Format/size: Adobe Flash (3 minutes 22 minutes)
Date of entry/update: 13 February 2009

Title: Rohingya migrants claim Thai abuses (video)
Date of publication: 24 January 2009
Description/subject: There's an emerging scandal today the Thai armys alleged mistreatment of hundreds of ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. We now have more details about the plight of these boat people - apparently beaten then towed out to sea. Some of the migrants managed to reach Indonesia, and Al Jazeera has obtained the first video showing their shocking physical condition.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Al Jazeera
Format/size: Adobe Flash (43 seconds)
Date of entry/update: 13 February 2009

Title: Exclusive Rohingya Rescue (video)
Date of publication: 27 December 2008
Description/subject: The Indian Coast Guard has released a harrowing video account of its rescue of Rohingya boatpeople last month, showing skeletal men crowded on the gunwales of their sinking vessel. More than 300 of the boat's original contingent died and 88 were rescued.... Date stamp:27-12-2008. Publication of video: 2009-01-24
Language: English
Source/publisher: India Coast Guard via South China Morning Post via Youtube
Format/size: Adobe Flash (8 minutes 49 seconds)
Date of entry/update: 13 February 2009

Title: Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Thai Policy toward Burmese Refugees and Migrants
Date of publication: 25 February 2004
Description/subject: "The report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Thai Policy toward Burmese Refugees, documents Thailand’s repression of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant workers from Burma. "The Thai government is arresting and intimidating Burmese political activists living in Bangkok and along the Thai-Burmese border, harassing Burmese human rights and humanitarian groups, and deporting Burmese refugees, asylum seekers and others with a genuine fear of persecution in Burma..." 1. Introduction... 2. New Thai Policies toward Burmese Refugees and Migrants: Broadening of Resettlement Opportunities; Suspension of New Refugee Admissions; The “Urban” Refugees; Crackdown on Burmese Migrants; Forging Friendship with Rangoon; History of Burmese Refugees in Thailand... 3. Expulsion to Burma: Informal Deportees Dropped at the Border; The Holding Center at Myawaddy; Into the Hands of the SPDC; Profile: One of the Unlucky Ones—Former Child Soldier Deported to Burma; Increasing Pressure on Migrants... 4. Protection Issues for Urban Refugees:- Impacts of the Move to the Camps; Profile: Karen Former Combatant; Suspension of Refugee Status Determination; Security Issues for Refugees in Bangkok... 5. Attempts to Silence Activist Refugees... 6. New Visa Rules: Screening Out the “Troublemakers”... 7. Conclusion... 8. Recommendations: To the Royal Thai Government; To the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); To Donor Governments; To the Burmese Authorities... 9. Appendix A: Timeline of Arrests and Intimidation of Burmese Activists in 2003 (3 page pdf file)... 10. Appendix B: Timeline of Harrassments of NGOs in 2003 (2 page pdf file)... 11. Appendix C: Timeline of Arrests and Harrassment of Burmese Migrant Workers in 2003 (2 page pdf file)...
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Watch
Format/size: pdf (244K, 1MB), html
Alternate URLs: http://hrw.org/reports/2004/thailand0204/profiles.pdf (refugee profiles)
http://hrw.org/reports/2004/thailand0204/thailand0204.pdf (printer-friendly)
Date of entry/update: 23 February 2004

Title: Pushing Past the Definitions: Migration From Burma to Thailand
Date of publication: 19 December 2002
Description/subject: Important, authoritative and timely report. I. THAI GOVERNMENT CLASSIFICATION FOR PEOPLE FROM BURMA: Temporarily Displaced; Students and Political Dissidents ; Migrants . II. BRIEF PROFILE OF THE MIGRANTS FROM BURMA . III REASONS FOR LEAVING BURMA : Forced Relocations and Land Confiscation ; Forced Labor and Portering; War and Political Oppression; Taxation and Loss of Livelihood; Economic Conditions . IV. FEAR OF RETURN. V. RECEPTION CENTERS. VI. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS.... "Recent estimates indicate that up to two million people from Burma currently reside in Thailand, reflecting one of the largest migration flows in Southeast Asia. Many factors contribute to this mass exodus, but the vast majority of people leaving Burma are clearly fleeing persecution, fear and human rights abuses. While the initial reasons for leaving may be expressed in economic terms, underlying causes surface that explain the realities of their lives in Burma and their vulnerabilities upon return. Accounts given in Thailand, whether it be in the border camps, towns, cities, factories or farms, describe instances of forced relocation and confiscation of land; forced labor and portering; taxation and loss of livelihood; war and political oppression in Burma. Many of those who have fled had lived as internally displaced persons in Burma before crossing the border into Thailand. For most, it is the inability to survive or find safety in their home country that causes them to leave. Once in Thailand, both the Royal Thai Government (RTG) and the international community have taken to classifying the people from Burma under specific categories that are at best misleading, and in the worst instances, dangerous. These categories distort the grave circumstances surrounding this migration by failing to take into account the realities that have brought people across the border. They also dictate people’s legal status within the country, the level of support and assistance that might be available to them and the degree of protection afforded them under international mechanisms. Consequently, most live in fear of deportation back into the hands of their persecutors or to the abusive environments from which they fled..." Additional keywords: IDPs, Internal displacement, displaced, refoulement.
Author/creator: Therese M. Caouette and Mary E. Pack
Language: English
Source/publisher: Refugees International and Open Society Institute
Format/size: html (373K) pdf (748K, 2.1MB) 37 pages
Alternate URLs: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Caouette&Pack.htm
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: Myanmar/Thailand: Nowhere to run (Amnesty press release)
Date of publication: 07 December 2001
Description/subject: "Today Amnesty International expressed grave concern about recent attacks by the Myanmar army on a settlement of internally displaced Karen civilians. In late November the army raided Htee Wah Doh, just across the border from Thailand, burning and looting houses, a hospital, and a school, and arresting 15 Karen villagers. The previous month, 63 Karen asylum-seekers took shelter in Htee Wah Doh after being forcibly returned to Myanmar by the Royal Thai Army..."
Language: English and French
Source/publisher: Amnesty International USA (ASA 16/024/2000)
Format/size: pdf, html
Alternate URLs: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA16/024/2001/en/4ca5e9cb-d8b3-11dd-ad8c-f3d4445c118e/asa1... (French)
Date of entry/update: 19 November 2010