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February 5, 2009
Thailand: Rohingya migrants to be sent back ‘home



February 12, 2009

Rohingya issue on agenda at Asean, UNHCR meetings

Thailand is willing to discuss the issue of the Rohingya migrants in top regional meetings this month and next.

Reuters quoted the Thai foreign minister as telling reporters after meeting his Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta on Wednesday. The plight of Myanmar's Rohingya, a Muslim minority, has attracted international attention following reports that hundreds of Rohingya migrants who fled to Thailand were tortured or mistreated by the Thai military.

Two boats without engines and carrying nearly 400 Rohingya migrants washed up in Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra in Indonesia, in recent weeks. Some of those on board said they had been rounded up in Thailand and cast adrift by the Thai authorities.

The Rohingya issue may be discussed on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Thailand at the end of February, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said.

"They are economic migrants and then we will offer whatever humanitarian assistance and to work with fellow regional countries and UNHCR to solve the problem at source," Kasit told reporters.

Indonesia, which has criticised Thailand's treatment of the Rohingya boat people, is pushing for the issue to be addressed by Asean members and Australia at a meeting on the resort island of Bali as soon as March or April.

"We will involve the countries of origin,country of transit, and country of destination," said Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.

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