Rescued Boat People Tell of Throwing Dead Overboard

A Buddhist monk speaks to a man who was rescued off the coast of Sri Lanka on Feb. 17, 2013.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Burmese nationals rescued from a sinking ship by the Sri Lankan Navy have told of throwing 98 people overboard after they died of starvation and dehydration, Sri Lanka’s police said on Monday.

Sailors rescued 31 adult males and a boy on Feb. 16 when their damaged wooden ship began to sink about 250 nautical miles off Sri Lanka’s southeastern coast, Sri Lanka’s navy said on its website.

“They said they had carried food and water for only one month and they had been in the sea for two months after the ship engine stalled,” police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody told Reuters. “Their captain and 97 others have died due to dehydration and starvation. They also said they had thrown the dead bodies into the sea.”

The survivors said they were aiming to seek asylum in Indonesia and Australia and identified themselves as Muslims from a border village between Burma and Bangladesh, Jayakody said, without elaborating.

Fifteen survivors are still in hospital in southern Sri Lanka while 17 of them have been discharged and detained after appearing in court, he said.

An estimated 800,000 Rohingya Muslims live in Burma but are officially stateless. The Burmese government denies them citizenship, regarding them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which does not recognize them either.

The United Nations estimates about 13,000 boat people, including many Rohingyas, fled Burma and neighboring Bangladesh in 2012, a sharp increase from the previous year.

On Feb. 2, the Sri Lankan Navy rescued 127 Bangladeshis and 11 Burmese nationals in an overcrowded wooden vessel that had begun to sink 50 nautical miles east off Sri Lanka’s eastern coast.

The members of this group of 138 people are still in a detention center near the capital Colombo, police said.


3 Responses to Rescued Boat People Tell of Throwing Dead Overboard

  1. ​ေရာ​သ​မ​ေမ​ြ

    “On Feb. 2, the Sri Lankan Navy rescued 127 Bangladeshis and 11 Burmese nationals in an overcrowded wooden vessel that had begun to sink 50 nautical miles east off Sri Lanka’s eastern coast.”

    127 Bangladishis and 11 Burmese? Why international media always reports these illegal immigrants as Rohingyas boat peoples.
    These 127 Bangladeshis would claim asylum as Rohingyas if they arrive in Australia or Malaysia.

    • You really should stop categorizing and judging people you do not know. These people died because the governments of Myanmar and/or Bangladesh did not accord them rights as human beings. Racist policies should not be rewarded. Stop economic aid to Bangladesh and Myanmar until they recognize their ethnic minorities as citizens with equal rights.

      • What the hell you’re talking about and who are the ethnic citizens on the boat? They are illegal immigrants from our neighbouring country and they are called Chittagonians locally and Bengalis as a nationality, but not by any other names. You may complain with the Bangladeshi government if you like.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Comments with external links in the body text will be deleted by moderators.