Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Myanmar authorities threaten families of Rohingyas who fled to Malaysia

The families of Rohingya Muslims who fled by boat to Malaysia say Myanmar authorities threatened to arrest them for allowing their relatives to leave.
A wooden boat carrying 56 Rohingyas left Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state, stopping briefly in Thailand before being intercepted in Malaysia.
Malaysia will allow them to enter on humanitarian grounds, with rights groups expecting further such perilous journeys by sea.
The boat reportedly departed from Thea Chaung village in Sittwe township on or around March 25, according to on-the-ground investigations commissioned by the ABC.
Our investigator said the families of those on-board were scared, after being threatened.
"Authorities are trying to arrest the families of Rohingya who have left and to fine them for letting their families leave," the investigator, who spoke with family members, said.
"So the families aren't willing to speak [publicly] to anyone at the moment."
It is not clear what charges the family members could face, but there is a long history of arbitrary arrests and persecution of Rohingyas by Myanmar security forces.
The Myanmar Government — along with most of its citizens — consider Rohingyas to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and enforce a crushing apartheid system.
Violence flared again in August, with attacks by a Rohingya militant group on police posts sparking a response by Myanmar security forces that the United Nations has described as "textbook genocide".
As a result, 680,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh, bringing stories of systematic rape, killings, people being burned alive and the deliberate burning of Muslim villages.

A desperate voyage

The arrival of a boatload of Rohingya asylum seekers in Malaysian waters is seen as a worrying sign of what might be to come.
This time of year is considered the sailing season in the waters off Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia, but the monsoon is on its way.
The boat was supposed to have carried 100 people — each paying about $100 — but local sources say a second rendezvous to collect additional passengers was not possible due to the presence of the Myanmar Navy.
The ABC has confirmed the names of nine of those onboard, including the 54-year-old captain, his two sons, daughter and granddaughter.
The ABC is choosing to withhold their names, due to the risk of reprisals to relatives.
"Their families left for Malaysia as they couldn't suffer their rights being violated, such as restrictions of free movement, lack of education and healthcare," a source in Sittwe township said.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said the wooden fishing boat was carrying 19 men, 17 women and 20 children.

Other boats snuck across: rights group

Thai police said this was the first boat to make the voyage from Myanmar to Malaysia since the scorched-earth campaign in Rakhine State, and it is certainly the first to attract widespread media attention.
But human rights group Fortify Rights said it had tracked other boats that had quietly made it to Malaysia.
"For the previous ones, usually the boats approach at the place and time that's more difficult to monitor," Puttanee Kangkun, a Thailand-based human rights specialist with Fortify Rights, told the ABC.
"They have their own channels to make sure the people can pass the border and reach Malaysia."

In December, the ABC investigated reports of boats leaving but could not confirm any vessels had actually left, partly because of Myanmar authorities enforcing a ban on fishing boats.
With the approaching monsoon, the window for making the dangerous voyage is closing.
"As long as the root causes still exist, the persecution still exists in the homelands, we could expect more boats will come," Ms Puttanee said.
"But the scale probably would not be as big as during 2013 or 2015 where the big trafficking syndicates have been functioning."
Back in 2015, an estimated 25,000 Rohingyas fled by boat to Thailand and Malaysia.
Some were caught in a human-trafficking nightmare, with Rohingyas held in jungle camps and tortured until their families paid a ransom.
Many did not make it, with mass graves found on the Thai-Malaysian border.
Thailand has prosecuted dozens of people involved in the trafficking, including an army general, two provincial politicians and police officers.
The arrival of this boat has many on edge, worried that similar cruel trafficking routes may re-emerge.

No comments:

Post a Comment