The Rohingyas fled their country, fear of their life, in present and future. Hundreds of them aboard fishing boats to find hope in neighbour countries like Thailand and Indonesia.
All of them were born and raised in conflict torn areas in Myanmar.They were beaten and denied citizenship by th Myanmar authorities.
After all those years, they choose to float in the open sea into an unguaranteed hope than to live a definite misery in their native land.
Some five hundred of the Rohingyas were reported missing at the sea, some were dead of hunger, some were gravely ill due to lack of hygiene.
Can their “silent” plea be any louder than this?
Fresh water and a sack of Thai rice
Thai parlement decided to pass the refugee matter to the military who then send them back off shore with fresh water and a sack of rice.
The country is no stranger to ethnic refugees in search of asylum. Yet over the years, it hasn’t seen any improvement in terms of handling asylum seekers or protecting the rights of its own ethnic minorities.
Land of smiles, how Thailand is known for, has been stirred by political and social problems lately– the feisty Samak finally resigned; Abhisit now took office but not like his peeps are going to see the supporters of ex-PM Thaksin sit still and pretty for long; the Muslim region on the south is not getting quieter either, backpacks filled with explosives are still out there trying to make the “difference” (or to prove something); and with global recession, job cuts and other problems are appearing at the horizon of social welfare.
Buddhism is the state religion, however in southern-most province of Pattani lives the Thai-Muslim minority. In this province, bomb threats and explosions are still rampant, carried out from time to time by militants. Patani is poor, perhaps the poorest province in the country. The conditions can hardly change due to the destructive measures carried out by rebel group and little by little the Pattanis bare a status as the country’s “estranged” people.
They have enough problems for one administration already. AFP highlighted last month Thai goverment’s future plan to unveil a new tourism jargon “Apologies Thailand”. Perhaps the jargon will serve as apology of Thai government’s multidimensional oopses.
No room in the archipelago
Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, it has the longest stretch of shoreline in the world, has the richest and most diverse marine reserves on the entire planet; the natural wealth of this country helped it to grow into fourth most densely populated country in the world, and religious freedom made Indonesia the most populous Muslim country.
All that statistic and more: one of the most corrupt countries in the world (has even called the most corrupt in the world, sometimes in the past), fastest deforestation in the planet (gone trees, gone in blink of an eye), its capital Jakarta is the model of Southeast Asian Megalopolis gone horrendous.
Few days ago, Aljazeera news said that the Indonesian government will repel 193 Rohingya boat people, stating that the Rohingyas migrated from their country due to economic reasons, therefore they’re not political asylum seekers.
As Indonesian, having been raised with “shush!”, “watch what you’re saying”, “and don’t be a smart-ass”, I should be bother to think and feel at all, but sometimes I trully wonder if our officials’ grey matter and their spirit of humanity align.
Perhaps in front of the Rohingyas, the authorities were subconsciously face to face with the country’s “estranged” people and problems and they did what they wish they could do to state problems — send them all out to the sea.