Burmese Police Uncover Monk’s Bid to Smuggle Rohingyas

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Rohingyas at the Dabang Internally Displaced Persons camp, located on the outskirts of Sittwe in Rakhine state, Oct. 10, 2012.
Rohingyas at the Dabang Internally Displaced Persons camp, located on the outskirts of Sittwe in Rakhine state, Oct. 10, 2012.

Authorities in Burma have arrested a monk who tried to smuggle eight Rohingya Muslims disguised in Buddhist robes to Rangoon from troubled Rakhine state, official sources said.

The eight Rohingyas as well as their driver were also being held by police in Aunn township—also in Rakhine—last Friday after they attempted to make their way in a van to Burma’s largest city dressed as Buddhist monks, a local police officer told RFA’s Burmese Service on Monday.

“This act is a disgrace to the religion,” he said.

The government does not allow the stateless Rohingyas to travel between townships without special permission or paying substantial bribes to state security forces, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a recent report.

The Buddhist monk, named U Kawthiya from the Zabuaye Monastery in Mon state’s Kyaikto township, and the van driver have been charged with smuggling the Rohingyas and with religious crimes for helping the men impersonate members of the Buddhist clergy.

The Rohingyas are from Ale-Kyune and Khaung Tote villages in Rakhine’s Kyauktaw township.

“The monk and a driver who were taking those Bengalis to Rangoon will be charged under Illegal Smuggling Act 367 and Religious Crime Act 295,” the police officer said, using the local term for Muslim Rohingya residents who are regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though they have long lived in Burma.

The officer said that the eight Rohingyas would be charged with attempting to illegally travel outside of Rakhine state without proper documentation.

“The eight Bengalis who pretended to be Buddhist monks will be charged under Immigration Acts 62 and 63,” he said, adding that authorities planned to send all 10 men to a prison in Rakhine state’s Sittwe city.

Authorities were unable to provide details of why the men had attempted to leave Rakhine state, which was beset by deadly violence last year, leaving scores dead and more than 100,000—mostly Rohingyas—displaced.

Rakhine state immigration officer Kyaw Yin Ho said that authorities are still investigating the Rohingyas’ motives.

“I don’t know the details yet. All I heard is that a Buddhist monk made those Bengalis look like monks and transported them, but I still don’t know where they were coming from or going to,” he said, adding that he had not yet read statements the men had given to police.

“The authorities are still investigating them.”

Kyaw Yin Ho said that he had seen similar cases of Rohingyas trying to illegally travel outside of Rakhine state, though he said there were now “fewer cases than before,” without providing details. He said that in the past, Rohingyas had “mostly tried to travel to Rangoon.”

The immigration officer said that Rohingyas who had been caught trying to leave Rakhine state in the past had stood trial and that the eight men who were arrested on April 5 would do the same.

“It’s a judicial matter,” he said. “Their trial will likely last three or four days.”

Thousands of Rohingyas, described by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, have fled Rakhine since the clashes. Many of them have undertaken treacherous sea journeys to seek asylum overseas.

Reported by Min Thein Aung and Kyaw Kyaw Aung for RFA’s Burmese Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Comments (3)


from Wanted

It is a partial outcome from which Burmese government steeling money from UNHCR an international community since many decades ago. Burmese called it Myauk Pya San Taung and they are doing it for ages and now they just getting some reward from it. They should had solved this problem many years ago but were enjoying all the money generated by humanitarian organisations. Even now they still want to make the most out of it and will get the impact of it soon. Rohinja are human and should not be treated like a play card to win whatever interest on it. If you don't solve it in satisfaction of stakeholders now you will get more complex issues and the story of the border will never end. The fact is that you won't get anywhere may be even worse if you still accusing and blaming to others and not trying to solve the problem.

Apr 21, 2013 01:02 PM

Anonymous Reader

Ko Kyaw Thu(USA)
You need to study about Rohinja( illegal Bangalis) and MUslims. They stay calmly and innocently do livelihood is no problem. But, they have been guided by Clerics from Mosque to Muslimization in Burma. They declared that they will make Burma to be a Muslin country during 21 century same declare at USA. It's New Win's( Nay Win) plan? This kind of staying in Burma is Terrorist purpose, colony purpose. Can you stay with them.?

Apr 19, 2013 06:46 AM

kyaw thu

from USA

Burmese government is implementing New Win dream of zero Muslim in Burma.New Win policy to alenate Rohingya was successful at New Win era among Rakhine and at U Thein Sein erra among Burmese Buddhist. They are trying winning to international audience that Rohingya are migrant. They fail to realize that the land that Rohingya live is bordering with Bangladesh and people were living on both side before any modern country boundary has established. Rohingya are victims of Neo-nationalist policy of general New Win and his student Khin Nyut and Thein Sein.

Apr 09, 2013 06:13 PM





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