To the Honorable Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva,


The Action Network for Migrants (Thailand) and the Mekong Migration Network, representing migrants and refugees in Thailand and the Mekong, are deeply concerned that the treatment of migrants and refugees in Thailand is inconsistent and thus does not adhere to prevailing international human rights standards. Without a coherent policy, the treatment of refugees and migrants has been left to the discretionary judgment of government officials to deal with situations as they arise.

We are particularly concerned about the recent reports that in late December 2008, allegedly 427 Rohingya were forcefully sent back to International water by Thai authorities, whereby only 102 survived when they were rescued by Indian Coast Guards. The others are feared dead.

‘Local human rights groups who have interviewed survivors, say Rohingya refugees from Burma, were held on the remote Koh Sai Daeng off southern Thailand in December, forced back on boats with their hands bound and set adrift with little food and water…’ Bangkok Post, 18/1/2009 – Alleged abuse of refugees probed, Thai Military Accused of Role in Deaths of Hundreds of Burmese Boat People

In the same Bangkok Post report, it was also revealed that there was another incident just before the New Year, when the Thai authorities towed 600 Burmese migrants out to sea in four boats. Allegedly, one of these boats is still missing and more than 200 Burmese refugees on board are now feared dead.

ANM and MMN is pleased that the Thai government has indicated that they will be investigating the matter, but it is felt that since the alleged perpetrators are the Thai Navy and/or the Thai Immigration Authority, we believe that this investigation should not be done by a government Ministry, but rather a multi-sectoral commission that should conduct its inquiry in an open and transparent manner.

It is our position that the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand should also conduct their own independent inquiry.

ANM and MMN also call upon the Thai government to immediately adopt the position that it will not in the future set any persons, including refugees and asylum seekers, adrift in sea. The Thai government should allow these people to land, and should adhere to the highest standards of rights and justice including its commitment as contained in the 1999 Bangkok Declaration on Irregular Migration, where persons will be ‘…granted humanitarian treatment, including appropriate health and other services…” There should be no unfair treatment.

The Thai Government must Protect the security, safety and well-being of the Rohingya who are currently seeking safety and refuge on Thai soil. They should be provided with all the basic facilities and support needed for survival in accordance with international humanitarian standards and principles.

ANM and MMN also call upon the Thai government to immediately set up a joint government and non-government committee to produce a coherent national policy for welfare and protection to avoid future incidents and oversee/ monitor the treatment of asylum-seekers and migrants in Thailand.

In order to guarantee the future systematic protection of all refugees and migrants, we strongly urge the Thai Government to immediately ratify the International Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees and the International Convention on the Protection of Rights of Migrants and their families (1990).

Finally, the Action Network for Migrants (Thailand) and the Mekong Migration Network implores Thai Government to call on all governments of ASEAN to condemn and call for a complete cessation to all human rights abuses carried out by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) that remains the root cause forcing people to flee to the other countries of ASEAN.

Yours sincerely
Committee of The Action Network for Migrants (Thailand)
Steering committee of Mekong Migration network

1. The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
2. Ministry of Foreign Affair
3. Ministry of Defense

Thai version (PDF 142KB)
For more information, please check the category,” Rohingya_inhumane treatment by Thailand” in “News on Migration in Mekong” in the MMN website. Or you can jump from the titles of articles below.

January 21th, 2009
South China Morning Post
UN request to see boatpeople comes too late
Bangkok Post
UNHCR asks govt if it can see Rohingya
The Nation
Navy did not abuse boat people’s rights: Abhisit

January 20th, 2009
South China Morning Post
PM Abhisit seeks to reassure on refugees Rights groups told not to worry about Rohingya
Thai PM must heed concerns on boatpeople
Thais calling for meeting on boatpeople Bangkok to raise migrants’ plight with neighbours, and defend itself
Bangkok Post
Anupong: Army follows humanitarian rules
India fears ‘hundreds’ died
The Nation
Hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladeshi still missing at sea
MCOT English News
Thai PM: Rohingya rights not violated; UN asks to see detainees

January 19th, 2009
South China Morning Post
Army head denies torture, but avoids key accusation
Photos show army on refugee island
Washington Post
Thai Forces Accused of Towing Migrants Out to Sea on Barges
Bangkok Post
Abhisit vows refugee cruelty answers
Thai PM Promises to Investigate Boat People Charges
AFP News
Thai PM holds talks on migrant abuse allegations
Thailand to tackle migrant claims

January 18th, 2009
South China Morning Post
Wretched reality intrudes on idyll, South China Morning Post
A timeline of events in the Andaman Sea
In search of a better life, they found brutality and death
Hundreds dead, set adrift by Thais
Four people were shot dead randomly
Bangkok Post
Alleged abuse of refugees probed
The best remedy is for the new government to recognise the rule of international law
MCOT English News
PM: Thailand will investigate migrant abuse allegations
Reuters India
Thai PM to meet rights groups on violation reports

January 17th, 2009
South China Morning Post
‘Concerned’ UN refugee agency asks Thais to explain boatpeople policy
Thai rights record is nothing to smile about
Thai navy reasserts denial of inhumane acts on illegal migrants
The Nation
Navy denies ill-treatment of Rohingya migrants from Burma and Bangladesh
Bangkok Post
Navy chief rejects Rohingya accusations

January 16th, 2009
Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs_Press Release
Case of Illegal Migrants entering the Kingdom via the Andaman Sea
BBC News
Thais hold more migrants amid row
South China Morning Post
Refugees in ordeal on Thai island, HK tourist captures pictures of beachside detention of bound victims by armed guards

January 15th, 2009
BBC News
Thais ‘leave boat people to die’
South China Morning Post
Refugees in ordeal on Thai island, HK tourist captures pictures of beachside detention of bound victims by armed guards
Repugnant refugee policy must be disowned
My shock at rough treatment of refugees on Thai holiday beach, As tourists frolicked, detainees were forced to lie face down at gunpoint
The Irrawaddy
Thailand Urged to Stop Pushing Refugees Out to Sea

January 14th, 2009
South China Morning Post
Thais urged to end island detention of boatpeople, Activists criticise the treatment of Rohingya refugees

January 12th, 2009

South China Morning Post
Thailand’s secret refugees: hidden on an island, then dumped at sea, Rohingya boatpeople towed to international waters and left with paddles