Asean rebuked on trafficking

Asean rebuked on trafficking

The horrific discovery of dozens of bodies in southern Thailand represents further lack of leadership on the part of regional governments to address the problem of human trafficking and the plight of Rohingya, Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said this week.

Thai authorities have uncovered more than 30 bodies of trafficking victims in Songkhla province along the border with Malaysia since May 1. Many of the victims are believed to be Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.

Reports suggest they likely starved to death or died from disease while being held in detention camps by traffickers hoping to collect ransoms.

“The fact that Asean leaders continue to ignore these crises is reprehensible,” said APHR chairman Charles Santiago, a member of parliament in Malaysia.

“It is sickening that crimes like these can take place at all, and doubly so that our so-called leaders do not have the courage or humanity to act to prevent them.”

The APHR also said that the discoveries provide further evidence that the plight of Rohingya represents a regional concern, which can no longer be deemed an “internal affair” of Myanmar. The group called on Thai authorities to take action to end human trafficking and hold accountable those responsible for the crimes.

It also demanded the Thai ings of Rohingya and other asylum seekers. “Successive Thai governments have known these camps existed, and yet did nothing,” said Kraisak Choonhavan, an APHR board member and former Thai MP.

“The extent of official complicity in these crimes is alarming. The government must hold those responsible to account, and this includes state authorities. Simply shifting police officers suspected of to ‘inactive posts’ does not constitute anything close to a genuine application of justice,” he said.

“Thailand must cleanse herself from a preference for being soft on traffickers by allowing international bodies like the World Health Organisation, the UN Human Rights Council, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, all of which have offices in Bangkok, to engage in refugee cases, especially those related to the Rohingya tragedy,” Mr Kraisak said.

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