Bengali Illegal Immigrants Could Face 7 Years

Illegal immigrants—such as these Rohingyas detained in southwestern Thailand in 2009—face stiff penalties nowadays when caught in Burma. (Photo: Reuters)

Sixteen young men, presumed to be Bengalis, who were were arrested in Kalay, Sagaing Division, for illegal entry into Burma, could face up to seven years in prison, said local police.

The men, all thought to be under 25 years of age, were arrested separately in the Mautlin area of Kalay. They are suspected of entering Sagaing Division via Chin State, and could have set off on their journey from either India or Bangladesh.

“We did not find any ID or documents on them,” said a police officer in Kalay. “They do not speak Burmese, so we had to communicate with them through a Bengali interpreter. They are currently being questioned by immigration officers to ascertain where they come from, and where they were headed to.”

As speakers of Bengali, the 16 could come from Bangladesh or the Indian state of Bengal. It is highly likely, though, that they are Rohingya—the persecuted minority which is denied citizenship in Burma, Bangladesh and India—because so many Rohingyas have attempted to migrate overland in recent years.

The police officer who spoke to The Irrawaddy said that the immigration department will open a case against the 16 once they have been questioned, and that they could face charges for illegal entry into Burma that carry a two- to seven-year sentence.

“That is the 20th arrest of this kind during 2012,” said the officer. “About 100 [Bengalis] have been arrested and charged this year.”

In September, 10 Bengali men were arrested in the same region and were sentenced to seven years in prison for illegally entry. The guide, who was arrested along with them, was given a five-year sentence.

Many of the illegal immigrants caught previously in the area were Rohingyas entering Burma either through the Indo-Burmese or Bangladeshi-Burmese borders. Many of them said they were en route to the Thai border and would then continue travelling until they reached Malaysia where they could find work.

Locals have said that Kalay has become a popular new route for Bengalis and Bangladeshi Rohingyas to enter the country because of the tight security situation in Burma’s Arakan State.

“They [the illegal immigrants] may think this is the safest way for them to go,” said a local in Kalay. “If the police can arrest this many of them, we can’t imagine how many are passing through unnoticed.”


4 Responses to Bengali Illegal Immigrants Could Face 7 Years

  1. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

    The picture in this article was taken in Thailand while this article is talking about the arrested illegal immigrants in Burma. What is the intention behind using this picture? If the story is about arrested Bengali illegal immigrants inside Burma, make sure that the picture is taken inside Burma; otherwise, it can be misinterpreted as if all of them are put in hell in Burma at gun point. 

    Now more stories are coming out about the Bengali that they are not only in Burma but also in India, Bengladish and some in Burma. These three countries should talk about the plight of these people rather than all the blames are put only on Burma. It is so ironic to see non-of them are able to speak any of Burmese ethnic languages when some of them claim to be residents of Burma for generations. Regardless of who they are, non-of them should face severe punishment for entering Burma. They should be sent back to their respective countries.

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter

  2. All Bengalis, who enter illegally into Burma
    and then they become Rohingya. All Bengalis who are detained in Thailand,
    Malaysia and Indonesia
    will claim they are Rohingya from Burma
    to get refugee status with UNHCR even thought they never been to Burma
    or just crossed Burma
    as transit to their journey. Also they can’t speak a little Rakhine or Burmese
    language. These Bengalis gave us bad name. Burmese Government need strong
    border control policy and honest patriotic Law enforcement persons in border
    with Bangladesh
    and India.

  3. How about after they finish their term in prison? Myanmar citizenship? Deport? To me, sentencing 7 years is too much, the immigration court must hear their case and send them back where they belong. Democratic Myanmar better behaves like a decent country. In Malaysia and S’pore, these people may get caned on their butts at least three each. I do not think we the Myanmar people need to do the same which is barbaric. Just deport them where they belong after fingerprinted. 

  4. As long as too many holes in border areas, illegal will keep coming into our land. Instead of sending thousands of soldiers to kill Kachins, Shans and Karens, Thein Sein better transform solders into Border Patrol(Guards) to safeguard our Union. Before we finish talking about Rohingya issue in Arakan, we already see their faces in Kalay of Sagaing Division. What is going on in Burma? Where are the soldiers and policemen? 16 were arrested but I believe more already sneaked in successfully. 

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