Thailand: Rohingya cry, put on act, when press is around

Update August 21:  86 “asylum-seeking” Rohingya break out of Thai detention facility and are on the run, here.

I’ve been ignoring the news lately in Asia about the Rohingya Muslims (so busy reporting on the flood of asylum-seekers in Europe and the US) which have been streaming out of Burma and Bangladesh trying to get to Australia and elsewhere and are ending up in Thailand where they are not “welcome.”

Rohingya boat people (mostly men) arrive on Phuket in January of this year. Photo: (EPA, Yongyot Pruksarak)

This is just a quick update from Phuket Gazette.  Seems they rioted and destroyed their detention facility earlier this month.

PHUKET: Deputy Interior Minister Wisarn Techathirawat says the presence of the media encourages Rohingya refugees to “act-up in front of the camera” in order to get sympathy.

Mr Wisarn was at the Phang Nga Immigration center yesterday to inspect the facility, following a Rohingya riot there earlier this month.

“The media often knows that the Rohingya are arriving even before the police do,” he said.

“And when the media are present, the Rohingya cry and put on a performance designed to get sympathy. When the media are not present, they act normally, and even seem to enjoy their interaction with the officers,” he said.

The “feigned pitifulness” of the Rohingya reported by the press is giving Thailand a bad name, Mr Wisarn said.

He called for special measures to be taken to find the Rohingya places to live, and said that government parties and officials must do more to respond to the needs of Rohingya refugees.

The rebellion at the Phang Nga Immigration center on August 8 occurred at the end of the Muslim fasting month, when refugees asked to be able to pray together and were refused (story here). The men, detained in cramped conditions for months, became enraged and damaged their detention cells as they tried to break out.

The rioting was contained, and subsequently, 261 men were transferred to police stations in Phang Nga; 24 remained at the Phang Nga Immigration center.

Just a reminder and for the benefit of new readers, Rohingya are being resettled in the US, Canada and Europe.  The numbers are small so far but the “humanitarian lobby” is pushing for the West to take more.

We have an entire category going back almost 6 years on the Rohingya, click here to learn more.

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