Thailand has deported 74 Rohingya Muslim refugees back to Myanmar, the Bangkok Post reports, in a move carried out in the face of international opposition from human right's groups.
The group, which includes small children, became stranded in Phuket last weekend when their boat ran out of fuel, and they were forced to come ashore in Thailand, says the Bangkok Post, and were then given food and water by regional authorities.
After deliberating on the matter, local authorities decided that they would send the refugees back to Myanmar overland, instead of allowing them to go back out to sea.
Read more from GlobalPost: Rohingya Muslim refugees thrown into Bay of Bengal
Human Rights Watch and the United Nations condemned the Thai decision to send the refugees back to Myanmar, claiming that Rohingya often face human trafficking and forced labor at the Thai-Myanmar border, as they desperately attempt to leave, says VOA.
UNHCR asked for access to the refugees and a halt to the deportation plans, but the agency was denied the request by the Thai government.
The Rohingya are a beleaguered minority in Vietnam, and have recently faced vicious sectarian violence in Eastern Myanmar, forcing many to flee Arakan State for more friendly climes.
Rohingya who choose to escape Myanmar by boat face serious danger during the sea crossing, and often must battle high seas from old and leaking boats.
Read more from GlobalPost: In Myanmar, a mini-pogrom by the sea
At the end of October 120 Rohingya went missing after their vessel capsized in the Bay of Bengal. The refugees were attempting to transfer onto a vessel bound for Malaysia when the accident took place.
Only a week later, 85 more Rohingya went missing at sea when their boat capsized in the Bay of Bengal, as the refugees headed to Bangladesh to look for work.