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Rohingya Muslims are a stateless people.

Their homeland is in dispute; some argue that it is Bangladesh and others argue that it is Myanmar. The sitting government in Myanmar’s organized persecution of the Rohingya has caused hundreds of thousands to flee to other countries in any means that they are able.

A great number have fled to nearby Thailand assuming that they would be safe from deportation back to a state that does not recognize or want them; however, they were wrong.

The situation in Thailand for the Rohingya is not a welcome one. Since the early 2000s, the Rohingya have been fleeing persecution in Myanmar to any country that is close at hand. However, Thailand is not the sanctuary that it used to be for the Rohingya, according to Abdul Kalam, a Rohingya who has lived in Thailand after escaping forced labor in his home.

Kalam is the head of the Thailand’s Rohingya national organization. The plight of the Rohingya in Thailand is not widely known save for a brief international spotlight in 2009, when media captured boatloads of Rohingya refugees being towed back out to see by Thai naval ships.

The Rohingya are trapped in vicious circle.

Thailand is one of the few countries in the world that has indefinite imprisonment terms and due to this unusual fact, this is often the fate of those being detained by Thai authorities. A group of reporters filmed the appalling conditions that many Rohingya face while being indefinitely detained in Thailand.

The conditions that the Rohingya were found in are deplorable and it is a travesty that such treatment of human beings is still occurring. The cells that were being used as holding areas were designed to house just 15 men each, yet Thai authorities had placed 276 Rohingya men in them. The Thai government should be aiding the Rohingya in their escape from persecution; however, Thailand does not recognize the Rohingya as refugees.

The troubling news for the Rohingya in Thailand is compounded by the fact that reports document how the Thai government has been secretly selling Rohingya to human trafficking camps deep within the Thai jungle. Reuters found evidence of these camps and reported on the plight of the Rohingya trapped in them. Reuters presented one of Thailand’s highest police officials with the evidence that was uncovered about the camps and when asked, police Major-General Chatchawal Suksomjit, Deputy Commissioner General of the Thai Royal Police gave the startling reply that he indeed knew about the camps, but called them “holding cells.”

The plight of the Rohingya is known to the world, but little is being done by the United Nations or any other international aid group. The persecution that the Rohingya face at every turn in their struggle to cement their lives somewhere should be considered one of the most flagrant abuses of human rights in the 21st century.

There are many pressing issues occurring around the world every day, but people can exist in a world free of persecution for any peoples regardless of ethnic or religious status.

Arthur Fuller

Sources: BBC, Fox, Time, CNN, Reuters, IRIN, Human Rights Watch
Photo: Press TV