Immigration police and provincial officers recaptured only six of 17 illegal Rohingya migrants that escaped immigration custody in Rayong where they’d been kept for more than six months.
More than 100 officers searched for the 11 ethnic Muslims from Myanmar after their escape where another 100 Rohingyas have been held since early this year after seeking refuge in Thailand.
Officials search the surrounding areas that might be hiding 11 of 17 Rohingya migrants that escaped immigration custody in Rayong.
Immigration officials said the Rohingya detainees cut metal bars on the second floor of the Maptaput Immigration Prison before climbing down the building at about 4 a.m. Aug. 17. They said the migrants are believed to be hiding in the province and local officers have distributed photos of the escapees to people in nearby communities in hopes to recapture them.
Thai officials claimed they rescued the Rohingya Muslims from human trafficking gangs and sent them to several immigration detention centers around the country for their safety. But the aliens have been held in overcrowded conditions for months on end as Thailand’s leaders struggle with what to do with them. Many have tried to escape.
Thailand has come under increasing international pressure over its treatment of Rohingya detainees, with organizations such as Human Rights Watch alleging widespread human-rights abuses for keeping the illegal immigrants in “unsafe” and “inhumane” conditions.
On Aug. 20, HWC issued a statement calling on Thailand to release the 1,839 Muslims being held, blasting an Aug. 13 government proposal to transfer the asylum seekers from prisons to refugee camps on the Thai-Myanmar border.
“Despite the fact that many Rohingyas fled ‘ethnic cleansing’ and crimes against humanity last year in Burma’s Arakan State, the Thai government refuses to consider Rohingya as refugees,” HWC said in a statement. “Many immigration detention centers are severely overcrowded and lack access to medical services and other basic necessities. Rohingya men are restricted to extremely cramped conditions in small cells resembling large cages. (And) Thai and Rohingya human traffickers have gained access to the government shelters and sought to lure out Rohingya women and children.”
Flying in the face of such allegations, Rayong Immigration Police Superintendent Col. Prasanth Khaemaprasith claimed the detainees kept six months in Rayong were treated well.
“Police had taken good care of them, gave them food, time to exercise, and checked for illnesses,” he said. “They should not have escaped because they were not being bullied or mistreated.”