Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones
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Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones

The Nation in an editorial entitled “Cambodia’s deportation of Uighurs is blatant hypocrisy”. Key excerpt:

After refusing to extradite a wanted fugitive back to Thailand, Hun Sen gladly sends asylum seekers back to China to face trial

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was quick to send back a group of 20 Uighur asylum seekers who have been staying in Cambodia waiting for the approval of the UN High Commission for Refugees. The Cambodian authorities said that they entered the country illegally, so they had to be deported back to China according to domestic laws. The United Nations, the United States, the European Union as well as international humanitarian organisations have urged the Cambodian government not to do so. Unfortunately, their plea fell on deaf ears – Hun Sen’s.

It is hoped that Thailand will not embrace the selfishness and short-sightedness of Phnom Penh when it comes to the handling of Lao Hmong refugees. Many have been given the UN’s People of Concern (POC) status because it is feared the Vientiane government will prosecute them if they are returned. Moreover, said one senior American official, there is growing concern in the US about the issue of forced repatriation of Lao Hmong refugees by the Thai government.

The US is also inquiring about 4,200 Lao Hmong in Petchabun living under the watchful eye of the military-run Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc), as well as 158 Hmong in Nong Khai with POC status,

BP: Perhaps, the Cambodians should take the approach the Thai government took when Rohingyas were claiming refugee status and that is tow them to sea in a boat and dump them in the middle of the ocean with little food and water like Thailand does.*

The Nation should think back to the beginning of the year when the Rohingya were towed out to the sea by the Thai military (see herehere, and here). The reason we found about this story because some of the Rohingya boat people who had been towed out to sea by Thai military survived and made it to Indonesia and India after drifting for a number of days without food and water (see here and here). The number who died we will never know – the internal Thai investigation unsurprisingly found nothing – but from statements given to the Indonesian and Indian governments and to the media by survivors, it appears to be in the hundreds. We have extensive coverage by the South China Morning Post and CNN (the CNN reports won a prestigious award) – you also have coverage by the BBC and Al Jazeera, amongst others. We had foreign governments specifically criticize the Thai government handling of the Rohingya.

Then, of course, we saw the typical Thai government and bureaucracy response with the the military (see here and here), the Foreign Minister, a Senator, and a Deputy PM criticize the international media saying they wanted to slander Thailand and that they could not be trusted in their coverage of the Rohingya boat people. Eventually the military admitted they towed out (or in Foreign Ministry speak “escorted“) the Rohingya in their boats and dumped them in the middle of the ocean, but well no action was taken against anyone.

For the first week, we had almost nothing in the English language media in Thailand. It was as if nothing happened. Newley wrote at the time:

It’s interesting to note that the Rohingya boat people story is receiving scant coverage in the Thai media. This despite many stories in the international press that have drawn attention to the accusations over the last week. And yesterday, a CNN investigative report (which I mentioned here) showed new images that seem to confirm that hundreds of Rohingya people were abused and then towed out to sea with little food or water and cut adrift.

But Bangkok’s two English language newspapers are running very little material on the situation. 

BP: The Nation finally wrote an editorial on the issue and stated “the tale of Rohingya refugees allegedly towed out to sea and abandoned by the Thai Navy is not welcome at all”. You will notice the dismissive tone by calling it a “tale”. The Nation‘s sister Thai language paper Kom Chad Luek had an editorial criticizing the foreign media for conspiring with some Thais to present negative news about Thailand in relation to the Rohingya and other issues.

Perhaps, before calling others hypocritical** it should look at the Thai government response and its own coverage of the Rohingya, Thailand’s treatment towards the Burmese and Hmong before launching into tirades. Yes, the editorial does mention the Hmong, but to the uninitiated you would think Thailand had not deported Hmong previously. Thailand has done so on a number of occasions in the past.

*sentence reworded

**well, this is a Thai politics blog so don’t normally get involved in criticizing the actions of non-Thai politicians (unlike The Nation and the Bangkok Post which write and editorialize on both domestic and foreign politics), but on the Uighur there is good reason to be concerned about their deportation back to China – see WSJ and Washington Post for background on the Uighur riots in China and then this AFP story quoting Amnesty specifically on the planned deportation by Cambodia.