Bangladesh + 2 more

Bangladesh detains over a dozen Rohingya headed to Malaysia

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Bangladeshi security forces have detained more than a dozen members of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim community and two men accused of attempting to smuggle them into Malaysia by boat on May 9, said the Office-in-Charge (OC), Mainuddin Khan from Teknaf police station.

The two Bangladeshis were charged with people smuggling offences after arranging the trip to Malaysia, the first time in two years would-be migrants have attempted to journey there by boat, said Teknaf police chief Mainuddin Khan.

“Acting on a tip-off, we arrested 19 Myanmar nationals from a house in Teknaf on May 9 as they gathered there for a boat trip to Malaysia,” Khan said. “They said they paid Tk10,000 each for the trip.”

On being tipped off, in the early morning, a group of police led by a police officer Sheikh Asharaful Zaman of Teknaf police station went to the Hatiar Guna village under Teknaf police station and arrested 19 Rohingya including two traffickers from a house where gathered by traffickers for boat trip to Malaysia, the Teknaf police chief Mainuddin Khan more added.

The arrestees were identified as--- Zamal (22), Zubair (19), Md. Eliays (19), Md. Rafique (20), Md. Edris (21), Md. Salam (19), Selim (20), Md. Ayoub (20), Md. Yunus (19), Zubairul Islam (19), Jahid Hussain (20), Abdul Hoque (40), Asia Begum (19), Somira Akter (20), Ms Rofika Akter (25), Ms Aziza Begum (19), Md Rofique (20), and other two children, they all hailed from Arakan State, Burma.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladeshi economic migrants seeking jobs have made the treacherous journey across the Bay of Bengal toward the relatively prosperous nations of Thailand and Malaysia. Recently, the Bangladeshi economic migrants are higher percent than Myanmar Rohingya refugee for boat trip to Malaysia, said a boat people watch group from Cox’s Bazar.

"As people are desperate to leave, these traffickers are now getting prepared to exploit them,” Rohingya community leader from the cox’s bazar areas.

Since October 2016, the Rohingyas refugee numbers have swelled as a crackdown by the Tatmadaw in Rakhine State sent more than 74,000 fleeing across the border into Bangladesh. The overcrowded, dirty camps are ripe for human traffickers offering a way out.

Rohingya elder Abu Zafar said the refugees caught by police trying to reach Malaysia had endured hunger, poverty and the “toughest test of patience and tried to migrate to Malaysia for a better future. It was a do or die situation for them.”

"The trafficker rackets are getting organized and activated again. They are a mixed gang of both Bangladeshi and Rohingya people."

Rohingya leaders based in refugee camps in Bangladesh said that boat trips had ground to halt after the 2015 clampdown, with many refugees now trying new routes to other regions, including the Middle East.