Writer: ACHARA ASHAYAGACHAT
The Immigration Bureau has allowed visitors rare access to Rohingya immigrants transferred from Ranong.
Chalida Thacharoensak, of People’s Empowerment, a human rights group, greets Rohingya immigrants during her visit to a detention centre at the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok yesterday. The migrants have been relocated to the capital from Ranong following the deaths while in custody of two Rohingya people in the southern province.
The department also assured the immigrants they would not be thrown out of Thailand.
Immigration Bureau commissioner Chatchawal Suksomjit yesterday said the Rohingya would not be deported from Thailand, although the solution to the problem of illegal immigration rested with the governments of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Pol Lt Gen Chatchawal said a committee had been set up to investigate the deaths of two Rohingya during their detention in Ranong.
Doctors previously said they had died of natural causes.
More than 30 Rohingya people stood flabbergasted on the concrete grounds at the detention centre at Suan Phlu yesterday while photographers took their pictures and senior immigration police officers and media tried to talk to them.
Another group of Rohingya sat wearily in a nearby room waiting for a nurse to take care of them.
Chalida Thacharoensak, of the People’s Empowerment group, and activists and Rohingya representatives from the Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand were also given a chance to meet them after they were moved from the southern province on Tuesday.
Vachareeya Thanya-ananphol, a Jesuit Refugee Service nurse who tended to all the immigrants at the centre, said about 10 Rohingya needed food and medicine.
“They feel very tired. Their legs are powerless and they feel itchy,” Ms Vachareeya said.
Deputy Immigration Bureau chief Phitak Jarusombuti said the bureau would not reveal how long the Rohingya would be detained. He said they would get good care.
“The NGOs and the Rohingya from outside will also provide some humanitarian support,” Pol Maj Gen Phitak said.
Seventy-eight Rohingya landed off Thailand’s shores in January.
The centre now has 93 Rohingya, including nine who were arrested in February in Bangkok.