Rohingya Muslims were identified by the United Nations as the most persecuted refugees in the world. The rest of the world does not recognize them as “people.” Sadly, their only hero, Police Major General Paween Pongsirin, is now seeking for political asylum in Australia for fear of his life.
Pongsirin has been investigating the trafficking of Rohingya Muslims for years. His investigation resulted to the arrest of 153 people, including known politicians, rich businessmen, fellow policemen as well as high-ranking members of the Thai army, navy and the Internal Security Operation Command. Ninety-nine people were already charged.
On Thursday, General Pongsirin told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation that he wants to seek political asylum in Australia because his life is already in danger. He said influential players were now getting a hand at the cases and his life is now in danger. “I worked in the trafficking area to help human beings who were in trouble. I wasn’t thinking of a personal benefit but now it is me who is in trouble. I believe there should be some safe place for me, somewhere on this earth to help me,” he said.
To Burma, where Rohingyas were originally from, and for the countries where they would want to seek refuge to, the Rohingyas are not people, according to Amnesty International. These people are stateless and have no chance at being citizen anywhere because they have no identification.
Burma passed a law in 1982 that denied the Rohingyas of their citizenship in the country. The law denied their nationalities. Since they have no nationality, they were not registered during births. Hence, they could not go anywhere because they have no documents; they cannot study; and worse, anyone can confiscate their properties because in effect they do not exist.
While Burma continued to host them, a religious and ethnic conflict erupted between Rohingyas and the Rakhine Buddhists. The latter made up the majority of the country’s population. The Rohingyas then became persecuted more than ever. In their desperate attempt to flee their hapless ordeal, they fell vulnerable to people smugglers, becoming victims of deeply rooted human trafficking syndicate.
General Pongsirin was the right man for investigating the plight of the Rohingya Muslims, according to Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phil Robertson.
“This is a person who investigates based on the facts on the ground and the evidence and follows the leads wherever they may go. He was brought in as a hard-nosed, experienced investigator — someone who has a reputation for being forthright in being incorruptible,” Robertson told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation. He added that Pongsirin found explosive information that he feels it is no longer safe for him to remain in Thailand.