About 150 Rohingya who wanted to flee to Malaysia have been arrested in Myanmar, where they are victims of persecution. The group consists of children, women and men who were intercepted in Thanbyuzayat, in the southeast of the country, says a source who wants to remain anonymous.
The Rohingya are said to have left by boat from the western state of Rakhine. They wanted to go to Malaysia via Thailand. A number of suspected human traffickers, not Rohingya, have also been arrested. The police are still looking for thirty other people involved, according to the security source.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, who have been victims of discrimination for generations. Most of them do not have access to citizenship, health services or education.
Almost five years ago, a repression triggered a massive exodus of this ethnic group to neighboring Bangladesh. Bangladesh hopes that the Rohingya will return to their country, but several attempts to repatriate them have already failed due to concerns about the safety of the refugees.
The arrests come just days after the ruling junta in Myanmar said it was prepared to take in Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh from mid-April in a pilot repatriation program.