Myanmar Authorities Seize 34 Rohingya in Ayeyarwady Region

By Salai Thant Zin 21 January 2021

Pathein — A total of 34 Rohingya Muslims from northern Rakhine have been arrested in Mawlamyinegyun Township in Ayeyarwady Region.

Acting on a tip-off, the police, military and immigration officials inspected a vessel on the Razudaing River and found 10 men and 24 women who reportedly came from Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships in northern Rakhine.

“We arrested them on Tuesday. Three men who ferried them fled and we are after them,” Ayeyarwady Police Lieutenant Colonel Tun Shwe told The Irrawaddy.

It was the second time Rohingya migrants from Rakhine have been caught entering Ayeyarwady Region since January. Seven Rohingya, who were spotted at sea near Chaungtha beach in Ayeyarwady Region on Jan. 4, were sent back to Rakhine after being detained for a few days.

The Rohingya found in Mawlamyinegyun are being kept in quarantine while the health authorities are testing them for COVID-19.

Ayeyarwady Region lawmaker U Wai Yan Tun from Mawlamyinegyun Township said: “The boat crew deceived them and left them at sea. Residents reported them to us. They are being isolated in Thit Poke village and the authorities are arranging food for them.”

Muslims in Rakhine State, who identify as Rohingya, are labeled “Bengali” by many, implying they are interlopers from Bangladesh. They are denied freedom of movement due to disputes over their citizenship.

Previously township immigration officers have filed lawsuits against Rohingya entering Ayeyarwady from Rakhine under the 1949 Residents of Burma Registration Act.

A total of 106 Rohingya from Rakhine were caught illegally entering Ayeyarwady in 2020. At first immigration department filed lawsuits against them but it stopped taking legal action around June following the COVID-19 outbreak and sent them back to Rakhine.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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