羅興亞是緬甸境內信奉穆斯林的少數族群，居住在西緬甸的Rakhine州，然而他們的公民身分在1978年的龍王行動（Nagamin, Dragon King Operation）中被排除。緬甸政府對於羅興亞人進行了有系統的迫害，並造成超過400,000名羅興亞難民逃亡至鄰近國家，例如孟加拉、印度、印尼、馬來西亞、沙烏地阿拉伯和泰國。據統計，目前有約230,000名羅興亞難民居住於孟加拉，而原居地Rakhine尚有700,000至1500,000的穆斯林，其中大多為羅興亞人（本資料根據2004年國際特赦組織的統計）。換句話說，羅興亞難民已經成為區域性的議題。
Thailand’s military is accused for its inhuman behavior against Rohingya refugees.
Large groups of Rohingya boat people were intercepted in Thai waters and towed out to sea and left to die, with only very limited food and drink. The disclosure came after that about 200 Rohingya refugees were rescued by fishermen of northern Sumatra, Indonesia.
According to the information from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Amnesty International (AI), there might be over 1,000 Rohingyas forcibly expelled by Thai military, and hundreds of them were rescued by India and Indonesia while others died in sea.
Under the international pressure over this issue, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva took investigation in January and declared that he had been informed that the soldiers did not abuse the Rohingya boat people. However, BBC News indicated that some Thai military and police sources had admitted that Rohingyas were sent back to sea.
Prime Minister Abhisit said that Myanmar denied its responsibility for Rohingya refugee, and therefore Thailand will not provide asylum to these “illegal immigrant workers.” Moreover, he claimed that Rohingyas must be sent back to where they came from, Myanmar. However, Prime Minister Abhisit promised that Thailand would treat Rohingyas humanely.
In a CNN interview on February 12, Prime Minister Abhisit finally admitted that “some instances” in which Thai military pushed Rohingya refugees out to sea. He claimed that “it is not exactly clear whose work it is,” and he was working on rectifying the problem. (The Feb 12 CNN interview with Prime Minister Abihisit: http://0rz.tw/7IKfq)
As members of Taiwan Free Burma Network (TFBN), we are deeply concerned about the condition of Rohingya refugees, whose condition is getting even dangerous from the end of 2008. We urge concerning countries to stop their persecution to Rohingya refugees, and to provide immediate assistance. Moreover, we also urge international society to care about this issue.
Rohingya is a Muslim ethnic minority from northern Rakhine state in Myanmar, but their citizenship was denied under the Nagamin (Dragon King) operation in 1978. Since then, Myanmar government has adopted a series of systematic persecution against Rohingyas, and it resulted in over 400,000 Royingyas refugees in neighbor countries, such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. According to the statistic data of Amnesty International (AI) in 2004, there are about 230,000 Rohingyas living in Bangladesh, and about 700,000 to 1.5 million Muslims living in Rakhine state, most of whom are Rohingyas. In other words, it has become a regional issue rather than a problem of any single nation.
Many groups, such as AI and UNHCR, are highly concerned about the critical condition of Rohingyas. They are urging Myanmar to stop the persecution against Rohingyas, and trying to persuade Thai government to provide immediate and adequate humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees. Thailand and Bangladesh both proposed that a regional initiative is needed to solve Rohingya refugee issue. Indeed, it is urgent to form a regional forum between concerned countries to figure out durable regional solutions, which “must ensure that those Rohingyas who have a well-rounded fear of persecution in Myanmar are not returned there,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.
As the chairman of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that he will help ASEAS to become the “people-based” community. Therefore, important issues such as human rights, food, energy security, disaster management, world financial and economic crisis will be discussed in the forthcoming Fourteen ASEAS Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand. In this summit, we believe that appropriate solutions to Rohingya refugee problems are expected, and Taiwan Free Burma Network will keep watching the possible regional forum and solutions over this issue.