Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia should end their pushbacks of boats with Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants and asylum seekers.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of HRW, made the call in a statement issued on Thursday.
The New York-based rights organisation also stressed the need to bring the migrants ashore and provide desperately needed aid.
“The Burmese government has created this crisis with their continued persecution of the Rohingya,” said Phil Robertson.
“Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia have made things much worse with cold-hearted policies to push back this new wave of ‘boat people’ that puts thousands of lives at risk. Other governments should urge the three governments to work together to rescue these desperate people and offer them humanitarian aid, help in processing claims, and resettlement places for those in need of international protection.”
As many as 8,000 Rohingyas and Bangladeshis are believed to be stranded in boats in the Andaman Sea and Malacca Straits without adequate food, water, or sanitation.
On May 1, a Thai government raid on a jungle camp in Sadao district on the Thai-Malaysia border uncovered 26 bodies, sparking a larger Thai government crackdown on networks smuggling Rohingya and Bangladeshis in Thailand.
Since then, Thai military and police officials have found more such camps and exhumed more bodies, and as camp guards have fled, more than 250 survivors have escaped the camps and been detained by the authorities.
“If Southeast Asian nations are genuinely concerned about the mass flight of Rohingya from Burma, they should demand that Burma immediately end widespread rights abuses against this most vulnerable population,” Robertson said.
“Ending discriminatory policies and ensuring full security so that Rohingya can safely and with dignity return to their homes in Arakan State would be a good place to start.”