Myanmar authorities seize boat carrying Rohingya refugees headed for Malaysia

Myanmar authorities seize boat carrying Rohingya refugees headed for Malaysia
Authorities in Myanmar have said that a group of 93 Rohingya Muslims will be sent back to Rakhine State after they attempted to flee to Malaysia.
2 min read
27 November, 2018
The UN has said that conditions are not safe for Rohingya repatriation [Getty]

A boat carrying 93 people thought to be Rohingya Muslims has been seized by Myanmar authorities, an official said on Tuesday.

Authorities were tipped off about the boat when a fisherman reported the "suspicious" boat, a local government official in the coastal town of Dawei told Reuters.

The boat is reportedly the third to have been apprehended while preparing to sail to Malaysia since monsoon rains gave way to calmer weather last month. 

Myanmar's navy stopped the boat on Sunday and detained its 93 passengers, who authorities say came from the Thae Chaung camp in the Rakhine State capital of Sittwe.

"They said they ran away from the camp. They said they intended to go to Malaysia," Dawei government official Moe Zaw Latt was quoted by Reuters as saying. He added that preparations are underway to send the group back to Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, on Tuesday.

Local media reports showed photographs of the boats passengers, many of whom were women and children, huddled on the boat's deck. 

Around 700,000 Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh since August 2017 following a military crackdown in Rakhine state.

This year, the UN called for a genocide tribunal to judge the generals responsible for the massacres.

A 440-page UN report into the genocide has detailed the number of attrocities committed by Myanmar's military against the Muslim minority, who continue to live as second-class citizens in the country or in terrible conditions in Bangladesh camps.

The UN, which has been granted access to parts of Myanmar's northern Rakhine State where most Rohingya used to live, says conditions are not right for the stateless minority to return.

A total of 42 aid agencies and NGOS said this month that Rohingya in the camps in Bangladesh were "terrified" about the prospect of coming back.