SOME 260 Rohingya refugees who have been held captive for almost seven months tried yesterday to break out of the Phang Nga Immigration Centre to celebrate the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The riot began at about 9am when some inmates tore down the doors separating three detention cells.
They reportedly shouted and stormed the main gate to get out of the building. A team of about 300 officers rushed in to control the situation.
Negotiators including a religious leader and representatives of human-rights groups were sent in to calm them down but the detainees insisted on joining the Hari Raya Eid-al-Fitri celebration outside.
Pol Maj-General Chalit Kaewyarat, provincial police chief, said the men were upset that they were not allow to celebrate outside and since the facility was short on staff, some Rohingya incited a mob to press their demands.
Authorities managed to disperse the rally at about 3pm. The protesters were divided into small groups to be sent to police stations in Phang Nga province.
Last month, 18 Rohingya escaped from the Phang Nga Shelter for Children and Families and five were recaptured in Chumphon.
From January 14 to March 26, Phang Nga has apprehended 953 Rohingya boat people who had fled their restive state in Myanmar to seek a new start in Malaysia and Indonesia. The Immigration Centre took custody of 261 Rohingya while the Shelter for Children and Families accommodated 43 Rohingya.