While Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to take in the Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants stranded at sea, Thailand has not committed to providing them with refuge.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, who hosted the meeting Wednesday with counterparts from Indonesia and Thailand, says due to domestic law and some constraints, Thailand will not be able to take in the refugees just yet. Thailand will provide humanitarian assistance.
Speaking in Bangkok, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the problem remains where will the Rohingya be placed, and he wants to discuss it at a regional meeting next week.
Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch says it is disturbing that Thailand is missing in action. He says he hopes Thailand’s leadership will urgently revamp its stance and join with Indonesia and Malaysia to save the migrants.
Burma (Myanmar) is likely to attend a regional meeting next week on addressing the crisis involving thousands of minority Muslims fleeing the Southeast Asian nation by boat.
The Burma government was initially reluctant to send a representative to the May 29 meeting in neighboring Thailand. Last week, Maj. Zaw Htay, director of the office of Burma’s president, says his government will not accept that it is the source of the problem.
Thailand’s Deputy Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai confirmed Wednesday that Burma has accepted the invitation.
Burma’s Deputy Foreign Minister Thant Kyaw told reporters that “we all have to sit down and we all have to consider how to tackle this problem.”
For decades, the minority Muslim Rohingya have suffered from state-sanctioned discrimination in majority-Buddhist Burma. Denied citizenship by national law, they are effectively stateless.
In the last three years, attacks on Rohingya have left hundreds dead and sparked an exodus of an estimated 120,000 people who have boarded human traffickers’ boats to flee to other countries.