November 21, 2013
More people have been fleeing from Arakan state after the human rights situation affecting the Rohingya minority has worsened. At least two boats a week are leaving from southern Maungdaw to Malaysia or Thailand, confirmed an anonymous source from the area. The passengers are taking advantage of calmer waters during the winter season to make their escape.
“Many Rohingya boat people including women and children are missing on the way to Malaysia due to rough sea and storm and some of the boats sank in the Bay of Bengal while on the way to their destination,” the source said.
Anonymous sources fingered Faisal, a Kunia Para village administration officer, who stands accused of profiting off the mass exodus. The officer is allegedly collecting 50,000 Kyat (US$51) for each passenger. The money is split with the Kunia Para police commander and boat owners.
After the Burmese government severely restricted freedom of movement for the state’s Rohingyas following the last year’s June and October violence, many found it very difficult to find work.
It’s a question of survival, said a Maungdaw town schoolteacher that didn’t want their name used. The government should lift the travel restrictions and take action against both the human traffickers and local authorities involved.
With no end in sight many are left with no options but making the perilous sea journey.
Upset locals told the Kaladan Press Network that allowing them to easily flee to Malaysia is part of the government’s plan to depopulate the area of Rohingyas.
An anonymous police agent confirmed that they are not stopping villagers leaving the country.
If this keeps up there won’t be any men left in the area except for elders.