Rohingya Vision

Rohingya taken off before Myanmar ‘rescued’ boat

Rohingya taken off before Myanmar ‘rescued’ boat
May 27
05:38 2015

THEK KAY PYIN, MYANMAR — When the Myanmar navy seized a boat used by people smugglers last week, it announced that the 200 people found aboard were mostly Bangladeshis seeking better economic prospects in Southeast Asia.

The message was clear: very few of the people on the boat, and by extension in the wave of Asian “boatpeople” drifting on the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, were members of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. Myanmar denies discriminating against the Rohingya or that they are fleeing persecution.

But in interviews with Reuters, people who were on the boat said between 150-200 Rohingya were aboard at one point. Many were quietly whisked away by the traffickers in the week before the navy brought the ship to shore, they said. The number is far larger than what Reuters reported previously.

“All of the Rohingya got off the ship. The Bangladeshis stayed behind,” said a 27-year-old Rohingya woman who was on the boat with her five children. All six of them returned to their village of Thek Kay Pyin before the ship was seized last Thursday.

It was not possible to independently confirm the account of the woman. But six other villagers said they were among the scores of Rohingya taken off from the boat.

It was not clear why the traffickers would only take the Rohingya off the boat. Matthew Smith, the executive director of the Southeast Asia-based Fortify Rights group, has said in testimony to the US Congress that Myanmar’s security forces are complicit in and profit from the trafficking. The government has dismissed the accusation.

Note:Changes have been made,Reuters is not responsible for these.




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