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Prayut orders probe into Rohingya boat incident

Jun 13. 2019
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By The Nation

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Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday ordered an investigation after a boat carrying 65 ethnic Rohingya people and five Myanmar men was swept into the shore at Satun.

Deputy Government Spokesman Lt Gen Weerachon Sukondhapatipak said on Thursday that the PM wants to know who was behind the incident, after the vessel landed at Koh Rawi in Tambon Koh Sarai of Satun’s Muang district 

The premier also urged public health agencies to provide the immigrants with health check-ups as per humanitarian principles and as to prevent the spread of any likely contagious diseases, he added.

National police inspector-general Pol General Suchat Theerasawat, who surveyed the boat's route by helicopter, said police was searching for more accomplices. 

Thai boat captain Sangkhom Paphan, 49, and five Myanmar men on-board have been charged with bringing illegal immigrants into the country. Police are also checking if they are part of a Rohingya people-trafficking ring.

Suchat said that the Rohingya people were currently being processed by the Social Development and Human Security Ministry to screen for human trafficking victims. As there is no available interpreter, officials are now looking for an interpreter to aid in the victims' interviews, he said.

A high-ranked official source said that the trafficking of Rohingya people had changed. Those Rohingya currently in Malaysia now contact a trafficking ring in Myanmar directly to transport their Rohingya relatives to a third country via boat, car or train. The trafficking ring then hires Thai people to take the immigrants through Thailand to their destination, the source said.

The source said the change had taken place since the arrest in 2015 of former high-ranking military officer Lt-General Manas Kongpan along with Pajjuban Angchotephan, a former president of the Satun Provincial Administrative Organisation, and Padang Besar Municipality’s former mayor, Banjong Pongphon. 

Manas and Pajjuban were each jailed for 20 years and Banjong for 10 years in May. 

Manas's case related to the high-profile 2015 discovery of a mass grave in a jungle shelter in the southern border province, where traffickers had hidden their victims’ remains. Most of the victims were ethnic Rohingya people from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

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