Malaysia detains 1,018 Muslim migrants dumped off its shores
With no apparent end in sight for the sufferings of Rohingya people, Malaysian authorities have arrested and sent over 1,000 Muslim migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh to detention facilities after they were dumped by human traffickers off the island of Langkawi.
Malaysian authorities announced Monday that 1,018 migrants, including many members of Myanmar’s long-persecuted Rohingya Muslim community, were taken into custody while “illegally” trying to enter the country at the popular resort island.
“The first capture by the police was made when a boat with the illegal immigrants was stranded at the beach in Langkawi, [and] the second capture was at Tanjung Biawak, Kuala Temonyong,” said the commander of the Langkawi Marine Police Mohd Yusof Abdullah.
He further added in a statement that “all the illegal immigrants that have been arrested will be sent to detention centers.”
This is while press reports indicate that the stranded migrants dumped near the Malaysian island were suffering from severe hunger and dehydration when discovered by authorities in very poor condition.
This is while Indonesian search and rescue teams discovered another boat drifting off east Aceh early on Monday with 400 men, women and children from Myanmar and Bangladesh aboard.
A group of rescued migrants, mostly Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladesh, sleep at a government sports auditorium in Lhoksukon in Indonesia’s Aceh province on May 12, 2015. © AFP
Local press reports further indicate that all the boats appear to have been abandoned by the traffickers as Thailand, their usual destination, harshly cracks down on the trafficking of ethnic Rohingya Muslims to neighboring states after the discovery of dozens of remains in mass graves at “slave camps” in southern Thailand.
Meanwhile, the United Nations refugee agency declared in a statement last week that an estimated 25,000 Rohingyas and Bangladeshis boarded people smugglers’ boats in the first three months of 2015, twice as many in the same months of last year.
“Based on survivor accounts, we estimate that 300 people died at sea in the first quarter of 2015 as a result of starvation, dehydration and abuse by boat crews,” the statement said.
A group of rescued migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, passengers of the first migrants boat, is temporarily housed at a government sports auditorium in Indonesia’s Aceh province on May 11, 2015. © AFP
Rohingya Muslims have for decades suffered from state-sanctioned discrimination in Myanmar, where the minority group has witnessed attacks from extreme Buddhists. The violence has forced nearly 100,000 people to flee the country.
According to the UN, the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. They have faced torture, neglect, and repression since Myanmar’s independence in 1948.
Myanmar denies citizenship to most of the 1.3 million Rohingyas, placing restrictions on their movement, marriages, and economic opportunities.