Human Rights Watch spoke with Rohingya, who described how they fled persecution in Burma only to fall into the hands of traffickers and extortionists, in many cases witnessing deaths and suffering abuse and hunger.
In recent weeks scores of boats carrying thousands of Rohingya asylum seekers and migrants from Burma and Bangladesh have arrived in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The three governments responded by pushing the boats back out to sea.
Rohingya also told Human Rights Watch that in some cases, smugglers lured and duped people to make the sea journey without disclosing what was involved, and sometimes handed them over to traffickers.
One 13-year-old Rohingya girl told Human Rights Watch how men grabbed her in front of her family: “They dragged me to the boat, they had sticks, and threatened to beat me. I screamed, I cried loudly. My parents were weeping, but they couldn’t do anything.”