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February 15, 2009

Thai PM denies admitting authorities’ abuse of Rohingyas
Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday dismissed a foreign media report he admitted Thai authorities had towed Rohingya migrants out to sea.

Referring to his interview with CNN, Abhisit said he did not admit Thai authorities had set Rohingyas adrift to sea. The Thai premier clarified what he actually said was “I have reason to believe that some instances of this have happened.”

CNN asked if the Thai premier knew by whom these were orchestrated and Abhisit replied if he could have the evidence as to exactly it was, he would certainly bring them to account.

"I believe that at times when there is …a lot of pressure in terms of the numbers of these people coming in, there are attempts to try to let these people drift to other shores. The one thing that is clear is that when these procedures do occur it is done on the understanding that there is enough food and water supplied,” the prime minister said.

Abhisit also said he regretted "any losses"  which might have occurred from the migrants' ordeals, but said he was doing the best he could to improve the situation.

The plight of Rohingya boat people became an issue after some of hundreds of Rohingya rescued in Indian and Indonesian waters in recent weeks said they were beaten by the Thai military before being towed out to sea with few supplies. Some of them were reportedly missing. The Thai military, however, denied the allegation.

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