Junta navy arrests around 80 Rohingya off Myanmar coast

By RFA Burmese
Junta navy arrests around 80 Rohingya off Myanmar coast Some Rohingya are seen after they were arrested while attempting to flee the country by boat from Kalegauk Island in the Andaman Sea, Ye township, Mon state, Myanmar, March 19, 2024.
[Saw Ba Maung]

The Myanmar junta’s navy arrested around 80 Rohingya attempting to flee the country by boat, residents who witnessed the event told Radio Free Asia (RFA), a BenarNews affiliate, on Thursday. 

Officials arrested the group on Tuesday morning in Myanmar’s coastal Mon state. The boat was intercepted off the shores of Ye township’s Kaleguak Island in the Andaman Sea.

Mon state’s junta spokesperson Aung Myat Kyaw Sein told RFA that although Mon’s administration was made aware of the arrest, other details had yet to be confirmed.

“The estimated number is about 80, but we do not know the genders yet,” he said, adding that unspecified official processes still need to be carried out.

The arrested Rohingya will be treated well and authorities will follow official procedures, he said. 

RFA was able to confirm the group traveled on a boat named Zwel Khit San, but could not identify where the group traveled from or where it intended to go.

Many Rohingya who had remained in Rakhine state after being targeted in a genocide by the Myanmar military in 2017 fled to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia following the country’s 2021 coup.

In October and November 2023, junta troops arrested more than 200 Rohingya escaping to nearby countries by boat, citing job scarcity, unemployment and increasing restrictions placed on the ethnic minority.

The junta announced on Feb. 10 that it would implement Myanmar’s military service law, under which Burmese men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27, who face up to five years in prison if they refuse to serve for two years.

Videos originating from Rakhine state’s west this month showed Rohingya undergoing military training. Troops have also preyed on Rohingya in internally displaced people’s camps, offering them freedom of movement in exchange for bolstering the junta’s numbers.

Mon state residents said that junta forces arrested 117 Rohingya on a rubber farm in Thanbyuzayat township’s War Kha Yu village in January, but the reason is still unknown. 

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported on Jan. 23 that during 2023, at least 569 Rohingya died and went missing after leaving Myanmar and refugee camps in Bangladesh.


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