PHUKET: Five boatpeople, victims of Thailand's traffickers, were buried in a Songkhla village yesterday while others continue to suffer disease and cramped conditions in secret jungle ''animal pens'' or official confinement.
Local Muslim authorities say that deaths from diseases and severe conditions are likely to continue until Thailand's government recognises that thousands of Rohingya, being smuggled through Thailand, should be accorded basic human rights.''The men we buried today were aged 16 to 40,'' said Isma-Aen Mat-Adam, of the Rohingya Help Network in Thailand. ''All of them died after being 'rescued' from the secret jungle traffickers' camps. Hospitals could not save them
''These deaths show how bad the conditions are in the jungle camps and in Thailand's detention centres.''
The men had been confined by Thai authorities and by traffickers in a serial rights abuse since January last year.
In the hospital, where doctors and nurses tried to save the men from the ravages caused by constant cramped confinement at the hands of Thai officials and traffickers, the nameless dead men were recorded on official documents as ''Rohingya One,'' ''Rohingya Two,'' ''Rohingya Three'' . . .
The first man died on January 30. Another perished on February 1. The third death followed on February 2. Two more came on February 4 . . . it's likely their family and friends are among more than 700 Rohingya still being held in southern Thailand.
The boatpeople were ''rescued'' by Thai authorities late last month from two secret jungle camps, little more than animal pens with earthen floors and no room for the captives to stretch or stand.
Twenty-four men who were unable to walk were left after the ''rescue'' to fend for themselves in the jungle at one corral site, said the Chairman of the Muslim Committee of Songkhla province, Sakkeeya Binsala.
For many, it was the second time in the traffickers' camps, having been previously ''rescued'' in January last year then confined for all the intervening months in cramped Immigration or police cells before being ''deported'' into the arms of waiting traffickers.
And around they go again, seeking sanctuary in Malaysia . . . but finding only a kind of hell in Thailand.
Wrapped in white shrouds and buried by local residents, the five fresh anonymous graves at the village near Sadao now bear silent witness to the fate of the stateless in Thailand.