The latest Rohingya controversy was stirred when one of them was shot dead as a group attempted to escape from where they were being detained at the Phang Nga immigration detention centre, some 60 kilometres from Phuket.
Most have probably read reports about why these persecuted migrants are fleeing the Rakhine State in Myanmar, but it is highly unlikely that anyone will ever get to read the true story of why 21 of them desperately tried to escape detention in Phang Nga on the morning of Monday, May 23.
Likely all we will be able to read is the reports that have continually been republished by the Human Rights Watch, regarding the abysmal conditions in Thai detention centres, “including severe overcrowding, putrid sanitation, and an atmosphere of violence”.
Or accounts such as that, in 2013, when journalists found 276 male Rohingyas detained in two small “cages” meant to hold no more than 15 people at the Phang Nga detention centre.
Based on such reports, it wouldn’t take a brain surgeon to work out why anyone would want to risk their lives to escape such conditions, and it’s easy to sympathise with the migrants, who had already escaped persecution from what should be their homeland, only to be caged like abused animals, indefinitely.
To add insult to injury, as a result of their attempted escape, said migrants now face charges under section 90 of the Criminal Code: Escape during Confinement – in which participation of three or more persons in an escape is subject to up to five years imprisonment, or a fine of up to B1000, or both. Just what they need, don’t you think?
To think that these persecuted migrants have already been “confined against their will” in the detention centre for over a year, and now face further imprisonment of up to five more years.
The Phuket News can only hope that Thai officials take notice of the international outcry, and seriously consider reforming how migrants, illegal or otherwise, are treated, and processed. After all, Thailand, by definition, is supposed to be the "land of the free”.