Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has announced that a Turkish military ship has been sent to help rescue Rohingya Muslims stuck in boats at sea off the coast of Thailand.
More than 1,500 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and migrants from Bangladesh landed in Indonesia’s Aceh province in recent days after people smugglers abandoned them in the sea.
Hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladeshi boat people were rescued by fishermen off the province on Wednesday, according to Indonesian search and rescue officials.
Davutoglu said, when speaking to Turkish youth representatives, during the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day, that “I have ordered the rescue of these long-suffering people from Myanmar including young or old people, women or men who have sailed towards hopelessness. We are trying to do our best to help these people with military ships of the Turkish Armed Forces coordinating with the International Organization for Migration [IOM].”.
Davutoglu stated that he is closely following the situation of the migrants.
“There were young people among about 6,000 people who have sailed from Myanmar towards Thailand and Malaysia. They do not know anything about tomorrow. They have no May 19 Commemoration. They have no opportunity to make plans about the future beyond surviving for tomorrow or next hour,” he added.
Davutoglu also said that 12,000 imprisoned young people from Anatolia [Turkey] were brought to Myanmar and “martyred” by Allied forces during World War I.
Rohingya Muslims have been discriminated by the government of Myanmar for decades.
“The government and to a large extent Myanmar society perceive the Rohingya a product of recent migration from a kin-state, Bangladesh. They are consistently referred to as ‘illegal immigrants from Bangladesh,’” according to Chris Lewa, the coordinator of the non-profit Arakan Project.
Rohingya Muslims have been attacked by Buddhist mobs in recent years and more than 100,000 men, women, and children have been subjected to forced migration according to the Project.
The Arakan Project has monitored boat departures and arrivals for more than a decade.
“The conditions at home — and lack of job opportunities — have sparked one of the biggest exoduses of boat people since the Vietnam War,” the Associated Press reported.