Thursday, February 05, 2009

Scandal of the boat people

It seems not only the Burmese regime which is contributing to a humanitarian crisis in one of the most repressive nations on Earth ... but the neighbouring Thai authorities, too.

The Thai military stands accused of dumping men, women and children from the Rohingya boat people deep out in the ocean. A repressed Muslim minority from northwest Myanmar (Burma), they've fled conflict to end up in Thailand. However the authorities there label them as illegal migrants ... and drag them out to deep sea in their small boats, where hundreds are now feared drowned.

According to Reuters AlertNet service, 550+ Rohingya are now feared dead since early December. Another 193 washed up on Indonesia's Aceh coast earlier this month.

Along with the decision recently to jail an Australian author deemed to have 'insulted' the country's monarch, the gilding is looking a little tarnished for Thailand, the holiday haven. Sympathy from the days of the Tsunami is looking rather old news.