Authorities stop boat with more than 100 Rohingya near Yangon


YANGON — More than 100 Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine State have been detained after Myanmar authorities intercepted a boat near Yangon on Friday.

The authorities stopped a motorboat carrying 106 people, including 25 children, near Thande village in Yangon’s Kyauktan Township early on Friday morning, according to a lawmaker who represents the area.

“The villagers reported to the police that they found a boat carrying Bengalis, and police and immigration officials stopped it for investigation,” said lawmaker Daw Thet Thet Mu (Kyauktan-2, National League for Democracy).

She said there were “four or five” adults on the boat who could speak Burmese and they told the authorities that they left an IDP camp in the Rakhine State capital Sittwe 10 days ago and planned to sail to Malaysia.

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

“They said they faced food shortages in the camp, and were unhappy staying there for years,” she said.

A member of one family, who spoke the Rakhine language, told Frontier they had come from Thetkaypyin on the outskirts of Sittwe, where there is an IDP camp. 

They were temporarily detained at a cyclone shelter near Thande village for further investigation, before being taken in eight light trucks to downtown Kyauktan.

If they do not have identification documents or permission to leave their township they are likely to face immigration charges, which can carry a prison sentence.

Reuters reported on November 8 that “dozens” of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and Bangladesh had boarded boats to try to reach Malaysia, raising fears of a fresh wave of such dangerous voyages after a 2015 crackdown on people smugglers.

An aid worker in Sittwe said they had received information that at least four boats had departed since the start of October, and some of them had already arrived in Malaysia.

In southern Bangladesh, the authorities detained 33 Rohingya and six Bangladeshis aboard a fishing boat bound for Malaysia, Reuters reported.

By Kyaw Ye Lynn

By Kyaw Ye Lynn

Kyaw Ye Lynn is a Myanmar journalist based in Yangon. Prior to joining Frontier, he worked as a freelance journalist and fixer. He began his career at the Popular News weekly journal in 2011.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Out of the wild: Myanmar’s controversial plan to harvest endangered species
Legalising commercial farming of rare species will undercut poachers, says Myanmar’s Forest Department, but conservationists expect the move to lead to increased demand.
The military’s business is all of our business
When the military enters the business arena, it needs to play by the same rules as everyone else.

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters

Our fortnightly magazine is available in print, digital, or a combination beginning at $80 a year

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar