THAILAND

Rohingyan Muslims

Rohingyan refugees try to break out of Thai jail to celebrate Eid

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 August, 2013, 1:26am

Thai police have used water cannon to prevent scores of Muslim Rohingya boatpeople from Myanmar breaking out of a detention centre to celebrate the Eid ul-Fitr holiday.

Police said 261 Rohingya asylum seekers broke the locks on two rooms and then tried to storm the centre's front door in southern Phang Nga province, where many have been held for months.

Officials blocked them at the ground floor and are negotiating with them ... but they still want to come out and refuse to go back to the rooms
Provincial police chief Chalit Kaewyarat

"Officials blocked them at the ground floor and are negotiating with them ... but they still want to come out and refuse to go back to the rooms," provincial police chief Chalit Kaewyarat said.

He said police fired water cannon through the gated front door to prevent the refugees, all men, leaving and "to calm them down". He added: "We will wait until they are calm before moving them [temporarily] to police stations."

A local official confirmed the incident, adding the Rohingya men want to come out "for prayers for Hari Raya" -- as the festival of Eid, marking the end of the Muslim holy month, is known locally.

Police said they would allow five of the detainees out at a time "but all of them still want to leave" prompting the angry stand-off.

Many of the asylum-seekers have been locked up in the overcrowded and reportedly insanitary centre for several months, prompting rights groups to call for their release.

Thousands of Muslim Rohingya boatpeople - including women and children - have fled the country since Buddhist- Muslim clashes a year ago in the state of Rakhine in western Myanmar.

Those who arrived in Thailand have been "helped on" by the navy towards Malaysia - their destination of choice - or detained as illegal immigrants.

 

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