Myanmar authorities have arrested 17 Rohingya Muslims who were smuggled from troubled western Arakan (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 Arakanese Rohingyas.
Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar in droves since mid-2012 after state sponsored violence broke out in Arakan (Rakhine) by Buddhists on Arakanese 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 to flee persecution.
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 Arakan (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 innocent victims will be charged under the Residents of Burma Registration Act (1949) and Myanmar’s Penal Code.
Note: Changes have been made, Anadulo Agency is not responsible for these.
Source: Anadulo Agency