Burma Deports Another 37 Boat People to Bangladesh

By Lawi Weng 19 June 2015

RANGOON — Thirty-seven migrants were deported from western Burma to Bangladesh on Friday, as nearly 600 others remain in shelters near the border, according to officials.

The migrants were among 208 aboard a boat found by the Burma Navy in the Bay of Bengal in late May.

Burmese authorities determined that 200 had originated in Bangladesh, and transported them to Taung Pyo Let Wai village in Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township to be scrutinized and deported.

An initial batch of 150 people were deported on June 8, 13 others who were among the group are still being assessed, officials said.|

Another boat, crammed with more than 733 people, was found on May 29 off the coast of Irrawaddy Division. The boat was held offshore for several days before being towed to Maungdaw, where passengers were transferred to border holding facilities and scrutinized to determine their origins.

Local immigration officials told The Irrawaddy that 546 were found to be Bangladeshi and will be deported “soonest.” The remaining 187 passengers, including 43 children and 62 women, were found to be from Burma.

An immigration officer in the Arakan State capital Sittwe confirmed the deportations and said that Bangladesh has also scrutinized the migrants to determined that those who have been deported are Bangladeshi citizens.

“On the side of the Bangladeshi government, they have checked their citizenship already,” immigration official Khin Soe told The Irrawaddy. “They checked them one by one, and even requested an investigation report at their embassy in Rangoon to be sent to their foreign ministry.”

“They [the government of Bagladesh] told us that they will bring their citizens back as soon as possible,” he said.

Migrants from Bangladesh and refugees from Burma’s Arakan State have been boarding boats in droves to seek work or refuge in neighboring countries, many ending up in the hands of human traffickers.

Those who fled from Burma are predominantly Rohingya Muslims, a mostly stateless minority that largely lives in apartheid-like conditions since deadly inter-communal violence erupted in the coastal state in 2012.

A Thai crackdown on the trade last month left thousands stranded at sea as traffickers abandoned their human cargo, leading to a regional crisis that has directly affected Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma and Bangladesh.%MCEPASTEBIN%