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48 Rohingya members arrested off the coast of Burma

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The Burmese navy detained about fifty Rohingya people, a local official said Friday, in the latest in a series of arrests of persecuted Muslim minority members as they attempted to flee camps in Bangladesh and the Burmese state of Rakhine.

It is not yet clear where the Rohingya began their boat trip from, but they were most likely intending to go to Malaysia or Indonesia, the two countries where Muslims make up the majority of their population and where many of the minority fleeing Burma live.

Thousands of Rohingya have made perilous attempts to flee by sea from overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh or from persecution in Rakhine.

“The navy arrested 48 Rohingya men, women and children, as well as five” smugglers “at sea on Wednesday night, local official Mint Thein told AFP on the phone.

An AFP correspondent saw the group arrive on the morning in the town of Bathen, on Friday morning.

“I don’t know how the authorities in the town of Bathen will go ahead” in their dealings with the arrested group, said the official, Mint Thein.

About 740,000 Rohingya fled from Rakhine to Bangladesh to escape the army’s security campaign against the Rohingya in 2017 and they are now crowded into overcrowded refugee camps.

Hundreds of thousands remained in Rakhine, where they lived under severe restrictions, amid a lack of health care and education in conditions described by Amnesty International as “apartheid”.

The arrest this week is the latest in a series of similar operations that have taken place in the past months with more Rohingya going through the flight due to the improvement in the water situation this season.

On Tuesday, at least 15 Rohingya refugees who were on board a crowded boat, mostly children and women, drowned while trying to reach Malaysia from Bangladesh.

So far, the local authorities have responded with several measures.

22 people were imprisoned for two years, while about two hundred were returned to Rakhine camps, while 95 are still waiting for the results of their long-term trials to be known.

The minority have little sympathy in Burma, where many are convinced by the official version that they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, although many insist that their roots go back to the country for generations.

Laura Hay of Amnesty International said that the Rohingya will continue to take these perilous journeys unless they regain their rights and the army is fully held accountable for the atrocities committed against them.

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