Myanmar: Rohingya trafficking victims nabbed in Yangon
|Rohingya Muslims, who have been living in the temporary camps since communal violence in 2012, are seen at Thet Ke Pyin camp near Sittwe, capital of Myanmar's western Rakhine state, on September 7, 2016.(Kyaw Kyaw - Anadolu Agency)|
By Kyaw Ye Lynn
October 23, 2016
Police say 17 men arrested while waiting to receive money from families to pay extra to be smuggled to Malaysia
YANGON, Myanmar -- Myanmar authorities have arrested 17 Rohingya Muslims who were smuggled from troubled western Rakhine State to the country’s commercial capital Yangon, an official said Sunday.
A police officer in Yangon told Anadolu Agency, “we arrested 17 Bengalis from Rakhine in Yangon yesterday” -- referring to the stateless minority group with a term that suggests that they are interlopers from neighboring Bangladesh.
Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar in droves since mid-2012 after communal violence broke out in Rakhine between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya -- described by the United Nations as among the most persecuted minority groups worldwide.
For years, members of the minority have been using Thailand as a transit point to enter Muslim Malaysia and beyond.
The arrest Saturday night came after a local resident reported to police that “some Muslims” were being sheltered in a house in North Okalapa Township of Yangon.
The police officer, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak to media, said by phone Sunday, “based off their questioning, the Bengalis were being temporarily sheltered there before being smuggling to Malaysia.”
He added each had paid 1.1 million Kyats (more than $850) to three human traffickers to smuggle them from Rakhine to Yangon over land through Magway town -- located around 520 kilometers (323 miles) northwest of Yangon.
They were arrested in Yangon on Saturday night while waiting to receive money from their families in order to pay the traffickers extra to smuggle them to Malaysia through Thailand over land, according to the officer.
“The human traffickers demand 1.2 million Kyats [more than $930] from each of them if they want to continue going to Malaysia.”
He said police are searching for three human traffickers who have been identified as Win Kyaw, Aye Thein and Maung Kyaw.
The 17 arrested men will be charged under the Residents of Burma Registration Act (1949) and Myanmar’s Penal Code.