MAUNGDAW, Myanmar (Reuters) – For years, tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslim boat people have fled this remote corner of western Myanmar for nearby countries. But another huge exodus has grabbed far fewer headlines.
Ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, bitter rivals of the Rohingya, are also leaving Rakhine State to seek jobs in Malaysia and Thailand. Small numbers of Rakhine are even following the same smuggling routes plied by the Rohingya and, like them, falling victim to human traffickers.
PHANG NGA Thailand (Reuters) – When Afsar Miae left his home near Teknaf in southern Bangladesh to look for work last month, he told his mother, “I’ll see you soon.” He said he expected to return that evening.
He never did.
When he reported for work at a house on the outskirts of Teknaf, a man there gave him a drink of water. Soon, his eyelids sagged and his head started spinning.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai police found scores of sick and exhausted boat people hiding on a remote island on Monday, and all but one of the 79 suspected human-trafficking victims were from Bangladesh, according to local officials.
The discovery brings to more than 130 the number of people found since Saturday in the province of Phang Nga to the north of the famous resort island of Phuket, officials said.
BATTAMBANG Cambodia (Reuters) – Brigadier General Sar Theth is the police chief of Battambang, a languid riverside town in western Cambodia. You could also call him the seven million dollar man.
On Sept. 19, Sar Theth’s officers tracked three Thai men in a pick-up truck as it passed through a remote border checkpoint from Thailand. When the truck stopped in the Cambodian district of Phnom Proek, the police pounced.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – When retired general Prayuth Chan-ocha lands in Myanmar on Thursday, his first overseas trip as Thailand’s new prime minister, he can expect a little love and a lot of understanding.
Prayuth, 60, led a military coup that toppled the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on May 22. His junta has detained opponents, shut down websites and banned political gatherings. He was elected prime minister in August by a national assembly he helped appoint.
RANAI Indonesia (Reuters) – The word “sleepy” could have been invented for Ranai, the largest town in Indonesia’s remote and sparsely populated Natuna archipelago.
It has few cars and only two sets of traffic lights. The cloud-wreathed mountain looming over it resembles a slumbering volcano. Nearby beaches lie pristine and empty, waiting for tourists.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – “Is she dead yet?”
Thai opposition activist Kritsuda Khunasen said she was blindfolded and struggling to regain consciousness when she heard this chilling query from one of her interrogators.
She was detained for nearly a month by the Thai military after it toppled the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on May 22. Kritsuda said she was beaten by soldiers and hooded with a plastic bag until she blacked out.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – An opposition activist’s claims that she was tortured in military custody were “100 percent fabricated”, Thailand’s ruling junta said on Tuesday, after the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an immediate investigation.
Kritsuda Khunasen, 27, was one of hundreds of politicians, activists, academics and journalists held by the military after it overthrew the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a bloodless May 22 coup.
BATAM, Indonesia, July 9 (Reuters) – In the dead of night,
as his fuel tanker sailed through the narrowest section of one
of the world’s busiest waterways, Captain Thiwa Saman was
wrenched from sleep and pitched into a waking nightmare.
Three men with guns and swords were banging on his cabin
door. Other pirates had already stormed the bridge, seized the
duty officer and smashed up the radio and GPS equipment.
PATTANI Thailand (Reuters) – They talked about corruption and politics, about healthcare and women’s rights, about the anxiety of bringing up children in a corner of Thailand where war has killed 6,000 people in the last decade.
Then they fell silent.
For years, Media Selatan was one of the most popular community radio stations in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, where Muslim separatists have fought government troops since 2004. But when the Thai military seized power in a May 22 coup, it ordered the closure of thousands of independent stations nationwide – Media Selatan among them.