By Max Constant
BANGKOK (AA) - A rights group is calling on Thai authorities to allow an independent probe into the murder of a Rohingya Muslim man, after he was shot dead by a police officer after escaping a detention center in southern Thailand.
Police launched a manhunt for 21 Rohingya refugees who fled the Phan-nga immigration detention center early Monday, but on trying to rearrest six of them shots were fired and one of them died.
On Tuesday, Amy Smith, the executive director of Bangkok-based Fortify Rights, called on the authorities to initiate the investigation into the incident without delay.
“The police need to demonstrate that a legitimate cause exists to justify the use of lethal force against a group of refugees,” she added.
Hours after the death, Police General Worawit Pranprung told Anadolu Agency that the officer had only used his gun "in self-defense”.
For years, Rohingya have been fleeing violence that many rights groups consider to be state sanctioned in Myanmar.
They utilize the service of human smugglers to travel to Thailand by boat, from which they try to enter Muslim Malaysia and beyond.
Many, however, are apprehended by Thai authorities and held on illegal entry offenses.
In the statement, Smith wrote that the tragedy could have been avoided if Thailand respected the rights of refugees and survivors of trafficking in accordance with international law.
“Many Rohingya detained in Thailand were trafficked by transnational criminal syndicates, in some cases with the complicity of Thai authorities,” she underlined.
Police have arrested two of the migrants who fled the center, but as of Tuesday the rest remain missing after fleeing into dense jungle.