Myanmar survivors say floated at sea for 25 days; 97 dead

Updated 22 February 2013
0

Myanmar survivors say floated at sea for 25 days; 97 dead

COLOMBO: Myanmar boat survivors rescued by Sri Lanka's navy last week say they floated for 25 days at sea and 97 people died of starvation after Thailand's navy intercepted them and forcibly removed their boat's engine. The Thai navy has denied the allegation.
Thirty-two men and a boy now detained at an immigration detention center near Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, were rescued last Saturday when their dilapidated wooden vessel began sinking while making a perilous journey to Malaysia.
All are Rohingya Muslims, but they do not want to return to Myanmar. The survivors were suffering from serious dehydration when they were rescued about 250 miles off Sri Lanka's east coast. The Sri Lanka navy said they were alerted to the sinking vessel by a fisherman.
"The journey was dangerous, but we had to do that ... as we fear for our lives, no jobs, and big fighting," one of the survivors, Shofiulla, told The Associated Press.
Sectarian violence in western Myanmar has killed hundreds of people and displaced 100,000 more since June. The United Nations estimates the Rohingya population in Myanmar at 800,000, but the Myanmar government does not recognize them as one of the country's 135 ethnic groups. Most are denied citizenship and have no passports, though many of their families have lived in the country for generations. Shofiulla, 24, said 130 people were on the boat when the journey to Malaysia started on Jan. 10. Each had paid $ 465. After 10 days' travel, he said the boat reached the Thai border when two boats from the Thai navy intercepted them. Shofiulla said the sailors took their engine.
"Then we (had) no food, no rations ... no water. We drank only sea water," he said, adding the bodies of the 97 who died over the next 25 days were put into the sea.
Col. Thanathip Sawangsaeng, a Thailand Defense Ministry spokesman, denied the allegations.
"This is absolutely not true. The Thai Navy officers would have not done that," he said, adding that similar accusations have arisen in the past, including claims that the Thai Navy had abused the refugees. "The Royal Thai Navy commander has previously made it clear that the Thai officers have treated the boat people according to humanitarian principles."
“There are two approaches in handling the Rohingya: Giving them food and help before letting them carry on their sea journey or prosecute them for illegal entry,” he said.


Britain identifies Russians suspected of Skripal nerve attack — report

Updated 19 July 2018
0

Britain identifies Russians suspected of Skripal nerve attack — report

LONDON: British police have identified several Russians who they believe were behind the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the Press Association reported on Thursday, citing a source close to the investigation.
Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service, and his daughter Yulia, were found unconscious on a public bench in the British city of Salisbury on March 4.
Britain blamed Russia for the poisonings and identified the poison as Novichok, a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack.
After analyzing closed-circuit television, police think several Russians were involved in the attack on the Skripals, who spent weeks in hospital before being spirited to a secret location, Press Association reported.
“Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack,” the unidentified source close to the investigation said, according to PA.
“They (the investigators) are sure they (the suspects) are Russian,” said the source, adding security camera images had been cross checked with records of people who entered the country.
A police spokesman declined to comment on the report.
After the attack on the Skripals, allies in Europe and the US sided with Britain’s view of the attack and ordered the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.
Russia retaliated by expelling Western diplomats. Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement and accused the British intelligence agencies of staging the attack to stoke anti-Russian hysteria.
Mystery surrounds the attack.
The motive for attacking Skripal, an aged Russian traitor who was exchanged in a Kremlin-approved spy swap in 2010, is still unclear, as is the motive for using of an exotic nerve agent which has such overt links to Russia’s Soviet past.
Novichok put the Skripals into a coma, though after weeks in intensive care they were spirited to a secret location for their safety.
“My life has been turned upside down,” Yulia Skripal told Reuters in May. “Our recovery has been slow and extremely painful.”
A British woman, Dawn Sturgess, died this month after coming across a small bottle containing Novichok near the city of Salisbury where the Skripals were struck down. Her partner, Charlie Rowley, is still in hospital.
A British police officer was also injured by Novichok while attending to the Skripals in March.