Myanmar detains 146 boat people: official

Myanmar detains 146 boat people: official
# 12 April 2011 04:18 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Myanmar has detained 146 boat people from Bangladesh after they were dumped on a beach by traffickers who told them they were in Thailand, an official said Monday, APA reports quoting AFP.
"They are in the Irrawaddy region under investigation," said the Myanmar government official, who asked not to be named.
He said more than 80 of the detainees were Rohingyas, a Muslim group living primarily in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state who are described by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
The group, found on a beach in late March, said they had paid to be taken from Bangladesh by boat to Bangkok and were told they had arrived in the Thai capital, he said.
"They will be charged under the immigration act. For the Rohingya they will be sent back to Maungdaw in Rakhine State. The others will be sent back to Bangladesh," the official said.
As many as 300,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they live in "primitive and squalid conditions" in both official and makeshift refugee camps, according to US-based Human Rights Watch.
The rights group said in a February report that authorities in Myanmar have "systematically persecuted" the Rohingya for more than three decades.
In the past human rights activists have condemned the Thai navy for sending Rohingya asylum-seekers back to sea.
The UN Refugee Agency in Bangkok said it had confirmed that more than 140 people had been put ashore in the Irrawaddy Delta and was trying find out more information about them.
"Sometimes, the smugglers take people out in boats and sail them around and tell the people they have reached Thailand or Indonesia and these poor people find out they are in Myanmar," said spokeswoman Kitty McKinsey.
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