Rohingya Vision

Boat with 228 People aboard Captured off Myanmar’s Western Coast

The boat people in queue to be trafficked to Malaysia were captured by Myanmar's Navy. (Photo: MOI Web Portal)

Boat with 228 People aboard Captured off Myanmar’s Western Coast
May 24
08:58 2015

By Rohingya Mirror

Maungdaw, Arakan State (Rohingya Vision) – Myanmar’s navy captured a boat with 228 people on board in international water off Myanmar’s western coast and Bangladesh’s St. Martin Island last Thursday afternoon. (Read earlier report on this: HERE)

The 228 people on the boat were in queue to be trafficked to Malaysia via Thailand and were said to have been floating in the Bay of Bengal for almost three months. It was mostly boarded with (said to be)  Bangladeshis and was captured around 3:00 PM on May 21, off the coast of southern Maungdaw Township.

Afterwards, the navy informed the Maungdaw authorities and the international NGOs to handle the matter of the boat people. Therefore, the authorities and the UNHCR came to an agreement to rescue the victims and give them the required humanitarian aids.

The head of the Maungdaw Township Administration; the commander in-chief of the Border Guard Police (BGP), Colonel Tin Ko Ko and his team; Police and other staffs from Maungdaw Police Station; and the head of the Maungdaw District Immigration, U Saw Naing, and his team along with the international NGOs such as UNHCR, MSF, WFP and Malteser International arrived at the coast of Alay Than Kyaw (Haishshu Rata) for investigations and providing aids around 6:00PM of the day.

As the NGOs were preparing to give the shelters to the victms at the dawn of the next day (i.e. May 22), the BGP Commander in-Chief and the Head of the Maungdaw District Immigrations secretly left for ‘Ang Ngu Maw’ jetty, a jetty at the southern-most tip of Maungdaw Township. From there, they took the boat people on land. And out of them, they directly sent 20 boat people to the Maungdaw Police station without informing the NGOs waiting to rescue the victims. Of the 20 people, 8 are said to be the locals of Irrawaddy Division hired for steering the boat and the details of the other 12 people have not been known yet.

Around 10:00AM of the day, the BGP commander and the immigration head brought the remaining 208 boat people to Alay Than Kyaw village and gave them a place at the premise of the Madrasa (religious school) in the village.

“The health condition of the 208 boat people is critical. Of them, 8 are local Rohingyas of Kyauktaw Township. Other 200 people are said to be Bangladeshi citizens. There were four children on the boat.

On Friday morning, the NGOs, the authorities and the staffs from Maungdaw Healthcare Department provided shelter and healthcare materials to the victims. Since then, Malteser and MSF have been giving medical treatments to the victims and the WFP has been providing foods to them” said a local in southern Maungdaw.

According to the boat victims, there were initially 350 people on the boat. Of them, 17 Bangladeshis and other 105 Rohingya women left the boat by paying ransom to the human traffickers. Those who could not had been floating for three months until the capture by the Myanmar Navy.

The Myanmar Navy used to come to boat often for ransom and fuel from the human traffickers on the boat prior to the recent findings of mass graves in Thailand, making them international headlines and subsequent crackdown on human trafficking by the Thai authorities. They didn’t bother to capture the boat or help the boat victims then at all, as said by boat victim.

[Edited by M.S. Anwar]

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