Thailand says it has intercepted a boat carrying 200 Myanmarese Rohingyas near the southwestern island of Phuket and has detained the refugees.
The Rohingya refugees were spotted off Racha Noi Island in Phuket’s Muang district on Tuesday.
The Thai Naval Force said the refugees were provided with food and water.
On Monday, Thai National Security Council Secretary General Paradorn Pattanathabutr stated that Thailand would no longer allow Rohingya boat people fleeing ethnic violence in Myanmar to enter the country.
“The Thai navy from now on will be stricter with them and will no longer allow them to land,” AFP quoted Pattanathabutr as saying.
In recent months, a large number of Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled to Thailand.
Some 800,000 Rohingyas are deprived of citizenship rights due to the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of citizenship and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion, and displacement.
The Myanmar government has so far refused to extricate the stateless Rohingyas in the western state of Rakhine from their citizenship limbo, despite international pressure to give them a legal status.
Rohingya Muslims have faced torture, neglect, and repression in Myanmar for many years.
Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in recent attacks by extremists who call themselves Buddhists.
The extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and have set fire to their homes in several villages in Rakhine. Myanmar Army forces allegedly provided the fanatics containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who are then forced to flee.
Myanmar’s government has been accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also come under fire for her stance on the violence. The Nobel Peace laureate has refused to censure the Myanmarese military for its persecution of the Rohingyas.
Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued separate statements, calling on Myanmar to take action to protect the Rohingya Muslim population against extremists.