YANGON – Four Rohingya men and two teenagers without proof of identity were arrested by immigration officers and the police in Minhla Township of Magwe Region on Sept. 29.
The Immigration Department said it was informed about the suspects staying near Bantpyin Village west of Minhla Township on the Pathein-Monywa highway.
“They said an agent asked them for 4,800,000 kyats [US$3,140] to take them to Yangon ahead of an onward journey to Malaysia. The agent asked them to pay some of the money as a deposit, as they needed to cross the jungle first,” said U Han Zaw Htay of the township’s Immigration Department.
The Rohingya males were reportedly from Nitin Village in Kyauktaw Township, Rakhine State, but had no travel documents or other proof of identity.
They were sentenced to two years in prison by Minhla Township Court on Tuesday. Two of them, aged 15 and 16, were sent to the Youth Training School and the four men were sent to Thayet Prison.
“We questioned them and found they had no travel documents, no recommendation letters from their village office or police station. That’s why we charged them,” U Han Zaw Htay said.
He said they were charged under the Resident of Burma Registration Rules (1951) and Union Registration Law of 1948 for not carrying a registration card and for failing to inform their administration office before traveling.
The officer said Minhla authorities had frequently arrested illegal visitors, with 15 arrests so far this year.
Minhla is located near the hills that form the boundary of Rakhine State. The porous border has allowed people to cross into Magwe, often with the help of agents.
There are many border checkpoints between Ngape and Ann townships.
“We’ve seen many people entering Minhla through Ngape. There is a checkpoint but they probably have agents who help them to cross,” said Ko Kyaw Ko Shein of a volunteer group from Ngape.
In August, four Rohingya males and an agent were arrested on motorcycles on the highway connecting Rakhine State and Ayeyarwady Region.
On Sept. 26, a Mitsubishi Pajero SUV carrying 30 undocumented Rohingya was stopped in Ayeyarwady Region. It contained 20 women, including a 15-year-old girl, nine men and a 5-year-old boy, all without proof of citizenship.
Translated from Burmese by Zarni Mann