July 15, 2019
Latest News

At least 63 'Muslims' arrested while trying to flee Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar, Jul 10 (efe-epa).- Myanmar authorities have detained 63 “Muslims,” which may include Rohingyas, after the boat they were on stranded while trying to move them out of the country, police officials told EFE Wednesday.

Most of the detainees are from camps located near Sittwe, the capital of western Myanmar's Rakhine state, where more than120,000 people of the mainly-Muslim Rohingya and Kamam minorities have been living in displacement camps since 2012, according to the police report accessed by EFE.

The boat was discovered over the weekend after it ran aground.

The police accused six of the people aboard the ship of human trafficking and four of illegal possession of weapons and said that Myanmar and Bangladeshi nationals were among those trying to transport the passengers to Malaysia.

Between 2012 and May 2015, around 170,000 Rohingyas from Rakhine state turned to criminal networks to flee repression in Myanmar, where they are not recognized as citizens, to head for countries such as Malaysia and Thailand.

In 2015, boats loaded with thousands of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis bound for Malaysia and Thailand were refused landing by authorities and left to drift in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. Later, Malaysia and Indonesia offered shelter to 7,000 of the refugees and migrants.

In May 2015, dozens of shallow graves and human trafficking camps were found in a jungle on the Thai side of the border with Malaysia.

The migration of Rohingyas then dropped to its lowest level.

At that time, over 1 million Rohingyas were estimated to be living in Rakhine state, the vast majority of them stateless after the government revoked their citizenship in the early 1990s.

These Rohingyas have been subjected for decades to a regime of discrimination on being considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh despite having lived in the country for generations.

In Aug. 2017, the Myanmar military launched a campaign against the Rohingyas following attacks by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army insurgents against police and army posts.

Around 725,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh following the violent army crackdown where they now live in the largest refugee camp in the world.

The arrest of the 63 in Rakhine coincides with the official visit to neighboring Thailand and Malaysia by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, who the Myanmar government has banned from entering the country.

Lee said last year that the military operations carried out in 2017 against the Rohingyas "bear the hallmarks of genocide." EFE-EPA

mk/pd/tw

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