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Thai general faces arrest for human trafficking, six years after SCMP revealed role in Rohingya abuse

Thai general faces arrest for human trafficking, six years after SCMP revealed role in Rohingya abuse
June 02
02:17 2015

A Thai military general, who was exposed by the South China Morning Post six years ago for orchestrating the brutal secret detention and expulsion of Rohingya migrants, has been suspended by the military after police ordered his arrest on suspicion of human trafficking.

Lieutenant General Manus Kongpan, also known as Manat Kongpan, will be questioned by the military and could be expelled if found to have breached its code of conduct, prior to facing a criminal trial, Thai army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr said.

It was unclear whether or not Manus had been arrested.

Southern Thailand has been a major base for smugglers and traffickers taking people by boat from Myanmar and Bangladesh to Southeast Asia in a trade that activists say has flourished for years.

Manus is the highest-profile official to be implicated in people smuggling as Bangkok pursues a crackdown in response to a surge in the numbers of migrants.

How the SCMP revealed Manus Kongpan’s role in the detention of Rohingya migrants, in January 2009, after obtaining exclusive photos of the secret operation.

“I have been told of his involvement. The arrest warrant is not unexpected,” said Udomdej, who is also deputy defence minister in Thailand’s ruling military junta. “Police have collected enough evidence to proceed with the case.”

In January 2009, the South China Morning Post published a front page story and photographs revealing Manus, then an army colonel with the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), had overseen the secret detention of Rohingya migrants on a remote Thai island. The migrants disappeared from the island and their fate remains unknown.

However, the Post’s stories at the time revealed that the Thai army had been systematically towing Rohingya migrants out to sea on unpowered boats and then simply casting them adrift. Hundreds died as a result.

Manus denied mistreating the migrants, and told the Post in an interview that he had instead tried to help them, by paying for their food and water “from my own pocket”.

Note:Changes have been made,Reuters is not responsible for these.

Source:Reuters.

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