Rohingya Activists Accuse Myanmar Regime of Killing 13 Rohingya

By The Irrawaddy 7 December 2022

It was a tragedy that began when a 12-wheeler truck swerved off the road in Hlegu on the outskirts of Yangon at 11.30pm on the night of November 27.

The truck was driving at high speed to get to its destination before midnight, when a curfew begins in Yangon, and it skidded off the road.

Two Burmese drivers managed to escape the crash, but the Rohingya people hidden beneath the sacks of ginger the truck was ostensibly transporting were not so fortunate.

Local authorities arrived at the scene and detained 68 Rohingya, 54 men and 14 women, hiding in the vehicle. There more Rohingya were arrested in the vicinity of the crash.

In all, a total of 70 Rohingya and a Bangladeshi man from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh were reportedly detained. They are being held at the police station in Hlegu.

Faced with institutionalized discrimination in Rakhine State in western Myanmar, where many Rohingya have lived for generations, some Rohingya continue to try and escape Myanmar in search of countries where they can enjoy fundamental human rights.

Successive Myanmar governments, including the current military regime, have regarded the Rohingya as interlopers from neighboring Bangladesh.

The junta imposed a news blackout on the detention of the Rohingya in Hlegu until December 4, one week after they were arrested.

On Monday, the bodies of 13 males were found dumped by a roadside near Ngwe Nanthar Village in Hlegu. Residents went to see the bodies before authorities arrived and saw that they were Rohingya.

“Most of them were teenagers. All of them were male,” said a Ngwe Nanthar resident.

The authorities arrived after the village administrator reported the bodies, which were then taken to Yangon General Hospital. The regime report said “the bodies were wet and bloated”, adding that a detailed investigation is under way.

A police statement said that the men and boys suffocated while hiding in the truck that crashed in Hlegu.

However, many Rohingya believe that the victims were tortured to death.

“I am sure that they were killed. I was told that they had injuries to their foreheads, faces and backs and signs of being stamped on with military boots,” said Rohingya rights activist U Nay San Lwin of the Free Rohingya Coalition, quoting eyewitnesses who saw the bodies at Yangon General Hospital.

They might be the part of the group of Rohingya detained on November 27 or from a separate group, said one Rohingya man who lives in Yangon.

The Myanmar military shows no mercy towards anti-coup activists, so they would not be reluctant to kill Rohingya, who the military has long persecuted, he added.

Another 78 Rohingya, 56 men and 22 women, were arrested in Mon State’s Mudon Township on Monday. They were hiding in a boat.

Rohingya trying to escape Rakhine State are also often arrested in Ayeyarwady Region, which borders Rakhine, as they travel by boat along the Bay of Bengal into the Ayeyarwady Delta.

Despite risking prosecution on immigration charges that carry potential jail terms, Rohingya continue to flee Rakhine, driven by poverty, grave rights abuses, harsh living conditions, as well as the enticements of human traffickers.