YANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar may snub a regional meeting hosted by Thailand later this month aimed at easing the current Bay of Bengal migrant crisis, the president’s office said Friday, May 15.
Hundreds of boat people have arrived on Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian soil since May 1, when the discovery of mass graves believed to belong to Bangladeshi and Myanmar migrants in southern Thailand prompted a crackdown on trafficking and smugglers to abandon their cargo.
Thai authorities, who have been accused of turning a blind eye – and also complicity in – the trade, called the May 29 regional meeting in Bangkok to address the “root causes” of the flow of migrants, many of whom are Rohingya Muslims from poverty-stricken western Myanmar.
Myanmar refuses to recognise the Rohingya as one of its ethnic groups.
On Friday it accused Thailand of using the regional summit to divert attention from its own issues with people smuggling.
“We are unlikely to attend… we do not accept it if they (Thailand) are inviting us just to ease the pressure they are facing,” presidential office director Zaw Htay told AFP, after Thailand called a May 29 summit in Bangkok.
“The root cause (of the crisis) is increasing human trafficking. The problem of the migrant graves is not a Myanmar problem, it’s because of the weakness of human trafficking prevention and the rule of law in Thailand,” he added.
The one-day meeting in Bangkok will include officials from 15 countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Myanmar as well as Australia and the United States. – Rappler.com