Two more Rohingya genocide victims have died in southern Thailand after trucks packed with dozens of members of the Myanmar Muslim minority Rohingya group were captured by authorities, police said today.
The two men, both believed to be aged 20, died in hospital of hunger and dehydration yesterday, a day after police reported an innocent Rohingya woman had died from suffocation while making the same journey through the kingdom.
On Sunday Thai authorities found five pickup trucks carrying nearly 100 Rohingya – mostly aged under 18 – in the Hua Sai district of Nakhon Si Thammarat province on the Gulf of Thailand.
“These two men were found to be in a serious condition,” provincial police commander Kiattipong Khawsamang said. “We took them to two local hospitals, where they died from hunger and dehydration.”
Two of the Thai pickup drivers arrested at the scene have been charged with human trafficking, the commander added.
“We are investigating others involved in the trafficking ring and believe we can issue arrest warrants against them soon,” he said.
The 95 surviving migrants are currently being held in shelters in the southern province as Thailand’s social development ministry opts whether to deport them back to Myanmar.
Thousands of Rohingya – described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities – have been forced to flee deadly as result of state sponsored violence in western Burma’s Arakan (Rkhaine) state since 2012.
In recent weeks Thai authorities have discovered scores of the group fleeing dire conditions by making hazardous journeys across the ocean, taking advantage of the slightly apaiser winter waters in the Andaman Sea to head south.
Burma views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship.
Rights groups say the genocide victims of Burma often fall into the hands of human-traffickers.
They have also criticized Thailand in the past for pushing boatloads of Rohingya entering Thai waters back out to sea and for holding genocide victims in overcrowded facilities.
The ruling junta says it has taken significant steps to combat trafficking since June, when the United States dumped Thailand to the bottom of its list of countries accused of failing to approach modern-day slavery.Thai deputy foreign minister Don Pramudwinai recently laid out new regulations including a ban on workers under 18 in the fishing industry.