Nearly 50 Rohingya Muslims have been detained at sea by Myanmar’s navy, a local official said Friday, the latest from the persecuted minority to be caught trying to flee camps in Bangladesh and Myanmar’s restive Rakhine state.
Thousands of Rohingya have taken to the sea over the years in high-risk attempts to escape sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh and oppressive conditions in Rakhine.
Village administrator Myint Thein told the navy had picked up 48 Rohingya men, women and children, as well as five “traffickers”, at sea on Wednesday evening.
An reporter saw the group arrive Friday morning at Pathein township police station.
“We don’t know how authorities in Pathein town will proceed,” Myint Thein said.
The group detained at sea this week is just the latest in a series of arrests in recent months as seasonal calmer waters tempt more Rohingya to put their lives in the hands of traffickers.
Local authorities have so far responded with various measures.
Twenty-two were imprisoned for two years, nearly 200 were sent back to camps in Rakhine while 95 more are waiting to hear the outcome of a lengthy trial.
The minority garner little sympathy within Myanmar, where many people buy the official line they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even though many trace their roots in the country back generations.
Amnesty’s Laura Haigh said Rohingya will continue to undertake such risky journeys unless their rights are restored and full accountability for military atrocities is assured.