Thai PM admits migrants were towed out to sea

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has admitted that the kingdom’s authorities towed boat people from Burma out to sea, following weeks of allegations of cruelty against the migrants.

Abhisit told CNN in an interview broadcast on Friday that it was not yet clear who had approved the practice of setting minority Muslim Rohingya migrants adrift, but added that he was trying to find out.

”All the authorities say that it’s not their policy but I have reason to believe that some instances of this have happened,” Abhisit told CNN when asked who was behind the policy of towing them out into the open ocean.

”And if I can have the evidence as to exactly who did this I will certainly bring them to account,” he said.

Hundreds of Rohingya have been rescued in Indian and Indonesian waters in recent weeks, some covered with welts.

They have said they were detained and beaten before being set adrift with few supplies by Thai security forces.

Rights groups fear scores may have perished. A photograph apparently showing the Thai army towing refugees out to sea has been published in the media and similar images were shown by CNN on Friday.

Abhisit, however, dismissed the Rohingya’s claims that they are fleeing poverty and repression in military-ruled Burma, insisting that they were economic migrants who were posing a strain on Thailand.

”I believe that at times when there is … a lot of pressure in terms of the numbers of these people coming in, there are attempts to try to let these people drift to other shores,” Abhisit said.

”The one thing that is clear is that when these procedures do occur it is done on the understanding that there is enough food and water supplied,” he added.

Many of the migrants have told of being set adrift with minimal supplies to eat and drink.

Thailand has previously denied all allegations of cruelty but the issue has caused embarrassment for its fledgling government.

It is set to be discussed at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Thailand later this month. — Sapa-AFP

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

OPINION | Gwede Mantashe, like Nongqawuse, is the false prophet...

Exploration has brought income inequality and poverty to people in Mauritius, Mozambique and Nigeria.

Women who kill: ‘Categories that rely on gender norms not...

Female killers usually do so for three reasons – psychopathy, greed and because they’re abused – but there is gender bias even in murder

Sabotage and corruption at Eskom’s worst power plant goes unpunished

A forensic report details how Tutuka power station is being crippled by current and former employees

Champions League final preview: A tale of revenge for Liverpool

The Reds are the favourites this time around, but they must not let emotions of the past cloud their heads when they face Real Madrid on Saturday

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…