It was reported that on 13 March 2014, officials from the Immigration Office Region 6 in the province of Songkhla have raided and arrested 213 Muslims with unidentified nationality who were taking refuge in a rubber plantation in Songkhla. The detainees were then separated and 60 of them were found to be women, 73 men, and 80 children. And according to Thai Post Online published on 14 March 2014, officials from the Embassy of Turkey went there to interview them. It is still unclear if they are Turkish. It is assumed that they have fled from fatal persecution and are in need of protection and refugee status. All of them are now detained by the Thai officials.
According to the information, the Migrant Working Group would like to commend the effort of officials from various Thai agencies to provide humanitarian help to the women and children who were given immediate health care. Also, any individuals or charities who want to help the people have also been greatly helped by the officials. Nevertheless, the Network and other undersigned organizations are still gravely concerned about the immigration of these Muslims and would like to bring the following recommendations to the attention of the Thai authorities.
1. The Thai government should provide access to the Muslims for officials from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) who might want to interview them independently in order to assess their personal status and their needs according to the agency’s mandate. Also, support should given to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and other civil society organizations which might want to approach them and given them both legal and humanitarian support.
2. The Thai government should adhere to international customary law and Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment-(CAT) to which Thailand is a state party and to refrain from deporting these Muslims, if it could be proven that they have fled from fatal persecution from whichever country they are. By pushing them back, they might risk being killed or subjected to human rights abuse and genocide in their sending country.
3. During the time the people are given shelter, state officials should treat them as religious believers and allow and assist them to perform their religious duties as they wish. They should be given basic necessities which help them to live their life comfortably and to have access to proper health care with priorities being given to women and children, their ailment condition. They should not be shackled at any time.
4. The Thai government should carry out measures for serious prevention and suppression of offenders against the 2008 Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act and to campaign to halt any form of human trafficking in Thailand in order to prevent the 200 Muslims with unidentified nationality from being further victimized.
5. The Thai government should immediately consult with state members of ASEAN to identify solutions for the region. It should be held as a universal principle that all ASEAN states hope to see peace, security, safety and stability in the region.
With respect to human rights and human dignity.
1. Migrants Working Group (MWG)
2. Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)
3. Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)
4. Stateless Watch
5. Prorights Foundation
6. Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)
7. Union for Civil Liberty (UCL)