January 12, 2013
SONGKHLA, Thailand – Security personnel rescued about 400 Rohingya Muslims from Burma held for months by a gang of human traffickers in Songkhla's Sadao district on the Malaysian border, local media reported Friday (January 11th).
MCOT Online said personnel from the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4, Padang Besar station police and Sadao administrative staff staged a joint operation Wednesday, raiding a rubber plantation and rescuing the Rohingya, dozens of whom were under age 15. The bust is considered one of the largest of human-trafficking rings in Thailand.
The Nation reported traffickers planned to smuggle the Rohingya to clients in Malaysia for work on fishing trawlers. Police arrested five Rohingya men standing guard over the group, and seized two weapons.
According to The Bangkok Post, the Rohingya told police they had been kept in the plantation for over three months, the last of an initial group of 2,000 that Thai and Burmese traffickers brought to Thailand aboard 10-wheelers via Ranong.
AFP reported police said Friday the Rohingya will be deported back to Burma despite calls by the UN for neighbours to open their borders to refugees fleeing communal violence in Burma's western state of Rakhine.