On Monday, May 23, twenty-one Rohingya men from Myanmar, were able to escape from Phang Nga Immigration Detention Center, in southern Thailand by sawing through iron bars of their communal cell. However one of those men did not get out alive. He was shot and killed and more were caught as they were chased up mountain.

On Tuesday eleven more were arrested and will be charged for breaking out. Four are still believed to be missing. Police are investigating the incident, however several rights groups stepped forward and demanded an independent inquiry of the fatal shooting.

They will have to “demonstrate that a legitimate cause existed to justify the use of lethal force against a group of refugees,” said Amy Smith, the executive director of Fortify Rights based in Southeast Asia.

There have been thousands of Rohingya fleeing poverty and persecution in western Myanmar since religious violence erupted in 2012. Their homes were destroyed, some were jailed, and others forced to leave; many have simply lost everything. According to the rights group, the Rohingya refugees face overcrowding, shortages of food causing widespread malnourishment among children, a lack of clean water and sanitation resulting in disease, and restrictions on their movements coupled with extortion and human rights abuses.

As they are trying to escape instead they are arrested. The Thai authorities have been arresting them, or they have ended up being trafficked in the southern jungles of Thailand and they try to go to Malaysia. Many of whom are killed along the way by gangs and others and their bodies later found in jungle graves near the Malaysian border. The Rohingya Muslims are a stateless and unrecognized group as the two countries they have called home – Bangladesh and Myanmar, do not even consider them citizens.

Rights groups advised that this would continue unless Thailand ends this cruel detention of refugees and human trafficking survivors. Some of these individuals spent two years in these detentions. As Ramadan is fast approaching it is devastating to know that some may spend this time away from families and not be able to follow their beliefs.

It is reported by the Migrant Working Group Thailand that there are more than 400 Rohingya detained in similar detention centers. The U.N Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that they would work with Thailand to solve this issue. “This incident underscores UNHCR’s serious concerns on a worldwide basis over the use of detention for dealing with people forced to flee war or persecution,” UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan stated.

These people do not have a home and have nowhere to turn for help, instead they as the victims are being held captive as criminals. As Myanmar and other countries do nothing, more and more Rohingya are suffering and dying, it is a slow moving and widespread genocide and ethnic cleansing, which many are ignoring. Along with these are also other Muslim countries who are not putting enough effort to help.

Even so called Nobel Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, who fought for decades for democracy and reform in Myanmar is doing and saying nothing on this issue as animosity towards the group increases. If the situation is not dealt with then another group of Muslims are at risk of being cut off from the rest of the world forever.

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