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Rohingya Boat Disasters and Human Trafficking Rings

By M.S. Anwar, November 1, 2013

A Sinking Rohingya Boat (Photo:
A Sinking Rohingya Boat (Photo:

Trafficking of victimized Rohingyas fleeing persecutions in their homeland, Arakan, Myanmar, by boats have made enough international headlines. Enough has been talked about the human traffiking rings which extend right from Arakan to Bangladesh to Thailand to Malaysia to Indonesia. Yet, what still lacks is “Serious Actions” to bust these human trafficking rings, the truth behind it being that they (the trafficking rings) are hignly connected with and work in cooperation with the concerned authorities of the afore-mentioned countries. Therefore, they are openly violating Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons,UN General Assembly resolution 55/25 of 15 November 2000.

Unfortunately, besides the notorious Thai traffickers, some unethical and greedy Rohingyas and members of Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) are also parts of these human trafficking rings. The role they play in these rings is too immense to be ignored. They work especially with Myanmar authority that wants to cleanse Rohingyas in Arakan. They pay money to Myanmar authority to say to Rohingyas that fleeing to Malaysia and other countries is the only way to escape persecutions. In this means, the traffickers are also able to temp and gather naive Rohingyas in Arakan to traffick other countries.

These traffickers always hide the bitter facts and deadly consequences that people face during the dangerous sea journey. They entice the victimized Rohingyas in Arakan showing advantages they will have once they are in Malaysia or Australia. Being a vulnerable people, Rohingyas easily fall prey to the traps of the traffickers. Most of the Rohingyas flee Arakan especially for their apparently favorite destination, Malaysia, by rickety engine boats across the perilous sea. During their dangerous journeys, many get drown, die and dissapear, whereas some others are killed by human trafficking agents or sold to third-parties for a better price.

A similar sort of heart-breaking incident took place on 26th October 2013 night. A boat loaded with 175 people sunk in the bay of Bengal not so off from the coast of the southern-most Maung Daw. A surviving victim recounted the accident as follow:

Around 2AM on 26th October 2013, we, 75 people (eight women, some children and the rest are men), by a small engine boat, set off from the coast at southern Maung Daw for the bigger boat waiting in the middle of the Bay of Bengal (i.e. international water). The owners of the boat asked us how many women we had on our boat. We replied “8.” They said “why are you here only with eight women.” Then, they scolded us and left in disgust. The boat was apparently a Thai boat because they were speaking Thai I felt.

Thus, we anchored our boat and waited until 5PM of the day. Then, a Bangladeshi boat loaded with 100 people arrived. There were some Bangladeshi nationals on the boat as well. The boat captain and other people who led the boat were Rakhines with some pistols. Hence, I think they are members of Arakan Liberation Party (ALP). The trafficking agents with us on our boat sold all of us to them for Bangladesh Taka 0.7 million. They (those who had bought us) said “we have bought you all for Taka 0.7 million and we will sell you all again to the Thai traffickers for Taka 1.4 million once we can take you to Thailand.”

We were transferred to their boat. So, we became 175 people on a boat. The weather was bad and there were high tides in the sea. Due to the high tides and holes in the boat, the boat was getting filled with water. Fearing the bad consequence of this dangerous journey, I was reluctant to proceed and happned to ask the captain of the boat to get me to the coast. He replied “I don’t do such things for you! I might kill you if I want. But I won’t take you to the coast. If you want to see how I kill people, I can show you an example by killing one on the boat.” I really got frightened hearing that!

However, other boatmates also started asking them to do the same. Soon, there was a brawl between my boatmates and owners of the boat. The captain of the boat took out his gun. Someone suddenly grabbed the gun and threw it into the sea. The boatmates took over the boat and changed its route towards the coast. Due to the hige tides and the brawl, the boat ultimately got drown not so off from the coast of Shil Khali (Chin Kali) village at southern-most Maung Daw. It was around 11PM on 26th October 2013.

Majority of the people died or disappeared. A few of us managed to swim across and get to the coast. And again, most of the survivors got arrested by Myanmar authority. I was one of the few who managed to survive and escape the arrest. It was horrible” exclaimed the surviving victim.


“Around 7AM on 27th October 2013, forty men were arrested and detained by Rakhine police at Aan-Dhangg (Inn-Din), southern Maung Daw, while other 11 were by Hlun Htein (Security Force). Some 26 people were arrested by Security Force in Kung-Dan-Kaung (Dunsaik), southern Maung Daw. On the other hand, four Rohingya women were arrested and detained by the military at Shil-Khali (Chin Khali) village in southern Maung Daw. (Note: The village partially falls under Rathedaung township.) Eight Bangladeshi nationals survived were sent to the Maung Daw police station.

On 29th October 2013, seven dead-bodies were found at the coast of Kuinna-Fara of Tharay-Kunbaung (Sair-Kunbaw) village tract, southern Maung Daw. Elsewhere, a Rohingya dead body with slashed throat was found in the creek of Tha-Wan-Chaung (Hossara), southern Maung Daw” said MYARF, a source on the ground.

The Rohingya human trafficking agents responsible for the above-mentioned disaster are Mv Muhiyiddin (Age around 57) from the village of Naya Fara of Pandaw-Pyin (Lal Boinna) village tract, southern Maung Daw and his nephew, Naju Muddin (Age 25), from the village of Gawdusara, southern Maung Daw.

Some other people who are involved in trafficking business are:

1) Abdul Hannan S/o Yunose

2) Hafizur Rahman S/o Abdur Rahim

3) Ayub S/o Abdul Gaffar

4) Kabir S/o ?

5) Ikram S/o Mason

(They are from Gawdusara village, southern Maung Daw.)

6) Jamal S/o Musa S/o Musa Akbar

7) Salimullah S/o Abu Sayed

8) Yasin S/o ?

9) Jamil S/o Ula Meah

(They are from Pa-Nyaung-Pin-Gyi (Daang-Khali) village, southern Maung Daw.)

10) Manir Ahmed S/o Rashid Ahmed

11) Salamu S/o Ali Akbar

12) Abdul Kadir S/o Shawru

13) Fayas S/o Mv Mason

14) Abdul Hamid S/o Khala

(They are from the village of Kayintan (Gojjondia) of Padin village tract, southern Maung Daw.)

15) Murtaza @Maung Maung S/o Mustafa from Myoma Kayin-Dan (Shidda Fara), Maung Daw.

17) Khairul Hoque (Hairuloq) is from the village of Maung Ni of Myoma Kayin-Dan (Shidda Fara) village tract.

Many more names of the traffickers will be unleashed soon.

All in all, it is a reponsibilty of Rohingya community to fight against unethical and self-centered Rohingya human trafficking agents and black-sheeps to rescue innocent people from facing disasters.

The government of Myanmar is liable to bust this human trafficking ring (instead of supporting them) if they (the government of Myanmar) abide by the United Nations Protocol against Human Trafficking.

Eventually, it is also a duty of international community to exert collective pressure on Myanmar government to stop violence against Muslims leading to mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims. Similarly, international community should press all the nations that involve in the human trafficking.

Written by M.S. Anwar based on the report by Sindhi Khan, a Rohingya activist on the ground. M.S. Anwar can be reached at: