Junta troops arrested 112 Rohingya near an island off Bogale township in Myanmar’s southwestern Ayeyarwady region, local residents told RFA.
The eight children, 47 women and 57 men were in two motor boats, waiting for other boats to take them to Bogale when they were caught on Tuesday morning.
Locals say they were from Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships in Rakhine State and were planning to sail from Bogale to Malaysia.
“Two boats were caught near Ka Tone Lay [Gayatgyi] island. The boats that were waiting to transport them to Bogale fled the scene,” a local resident, who didn’t want to be named for security reasons, told RFA.
The Rohingya are being held at Bogale Police Station, and locals say they do not know what charges, if any, the police plan to file against them.
RFA phoned Maung Maung Than, the junta spokesman and social affairs minister of Ayeyarwady region to ask about the arrests but the calls went unanswered.
Suspected smugglers arrested
In a separate development the junta issued a statement Tuesday saying 12 men have been arrested in connection with the deaths of 13 Rohingya whose bodies were found on Nov. 5 in Yangon region’s Hlegu township.
The junta said the Rohingya had fled a refugee camp in Bangladesh and returned to Rakhine State, from where they planned to travel to Malaysia.
It said the Rohingya were being driven to Yangon, concealed in a fuel truck and died between Htantabin township and Hlaingtharyar (West) township.
The statement did not say whether they suffocated in the truck or were killed by the smugglers.
The bodies were found near a pile of trash in the early morning and locals told RFA at the time they showed signs of being immersed in water for a long time, had injury marks, and appeared to have been dead for more than two days.
The junta said the 12 men who were arrested had also taken money from 255 Rohingya and sent five groups to Malaysia.
According to data compiled by RFA over the past 12 months, some 1,653 Rohingya from internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Rakhine state and refugee camps in Bangladesh were arrested in various parts of Myanmar. Of these, 271 were sentenced to between two and five years in prison.
More than 740,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine State following a military crackdown on the ethnic minority Muslim group that started five years ago and live in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Of the more than 600,000 that remained around 125,000 are living in IDP camps in Rakhine.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Written in English by Mike Firn.