STRASBOURG, France: European lawmakers urged Thailand on Thursday to crackdown on smugglers and corrupt officials it said were responsible for the thousands of migrants stranded at sea, many Muslim Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar.
“Thousands of Rohingya people and other migrants continue to be smuggled through Thailand and from other countries in the region by human traffickers, in some cases including corrupt local Thai authorities,” the MEPs said in a resolution that was voted through in European Parliament.
Thai authorities must “put an end to any complicity with criminal gangs” involved in the traffic, the resolution said.
Myanmar meanwhile “must change policy and end the persecution and discrimination” targeting the Rohingya and allow full citizenship to the minority, the MEPs said.
Migrants are “held captive in inhuman conditions in jungle camps in southern Thailand, where they are tortured, starved and beaten to death by their captors to extort ransoms from their families and relatives, or sold into human slavery”, the resolution said.
In the past 10 days, nearly 3,000 people from Myanmar and Bangladesh have been rescued or swum to shore in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Several thousand more are believed to be trapped on boats at sea with little food or water in a crisis sparked by smugglers abandoning their human cargo after a Thai crackdown on human-trafficking routes.
Most of the migrants are Muslim Rohingya, considered one of the most persecuted ethnic minorities in the world.
They are officially stateless and reviled by Myanmar’s Buddhist majority, who deny their estimated 1.3 million community rights by describing them as citizens of neighboring Bangladesh.