Over 110 Rohingya arrested in southern Myanmar
More than 110 Rohingya from war-torn western Myanmar were arrested as they tried to flee the country to Malaysia, a local security source told AFP today.
The mainly Muslim Rohingya are seen in Myanmar as interlopers from Bangladesh. They are denied citizenship and require permission to travel.
Fifty-nine men and 58 women were arrested from two trucks in Thanbyuzayat township in eastern Mon state on Tuesday, according to the local security source, who declined to be named as he was not permitted to talk to the media.
The source said the group was headed for Malaysia via Thailand.
According to initial reports, the group travelled first by boat from Sittwe and Maungdaw in Rakhine state and were later picked up by traffickers in Thanbyuzayat for the onward journey to Thailand before being abandoned.
In recent weeks, fighting between the junta and ethnic armed group the Arakan Army (AA) has rocked swathes of Rakhine state, displacing tens of thousands.
The military has since closed highways and banned water travel in the riverine state.
In 2017, the military launched a crackdown on Rohingya in Rakhine, sending hundreds of thousands of the persecuted minority fleeing into neighbouring Bangladesh.
The crackdown is now the subject of a genocide case at the International Court of Justice, while the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar are subject to what rights groups describe as apartheid-like conditions.
Every year, thousands of Rohingya undertake risky sea journeys from Myanmar and overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh trying to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.
Around 569 Rohingya were reported to have died or gone missing at sea last year, the United Nations' refugee agency said on Tuesday, the highest number since 2014.
Nearly 4,500 embarked on sea journeys from Myanmar or camps in Bangladesh in 2023, the agency said.