World Bulletin / News Desk
A Myanmar court has handed two-year jail terms to five Rohingya Muslims who were smuggled from troubled western Rakhine State to the country’s commercial capital Yangon, according to an official Saturday.
Soe Myint, a local police officer in Tarmwe Township, told Anadolu Agency that the five -- who were detained Oct. 18 during a police patrol in Yangon -- had been charged under allegations of being “illegal intruders” according to the Residents of Burma Registration Act of 1949.
“Five Bengalis were sentenced for two years each with hard labor yesterday,” he said by phone Saturday, using a term that suggests Rohingya are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
“Verdict for another 17 Bengalis is due next week,” he said.
The five were among a total of 22 Rohingya men arrested after police disrupted a human smuggling route stretching from Rakhine to Malaysia in two separate raids in Yangon last week.
Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar in droves since mid-2012 after communal violence broke out in Rakhine between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya -- described by the United Nations as among the most persecuted minority groups worldwide.
For years, members of the minority have been using Thailand as a transit point to enter Muslim Malaysia and beyond.
Police said the detained men were being temporarily sheltered in Yangon before being smuggling to Malaysia.
Each of them had paid 1.1 million Kyats (more than $850) to human traffickers to smuggle them from Rakhine to Yangon over land through Magway town -- located around 520 kilometers (323 miles) northwest of Yangon.
They were arrested in Yangon last week while waiting to receive money from their families in order to pay the traffickers extra to smuggle them to Malaysia through Thailand over land, according to the officer.
Officer Soe Myint said Saturday that two suspected human traffickers, Sali Ahmed and Hla Thein, had been arrested in Kyauktaw Township of Rakhine on Oct. 25.
Police, however, are still searching for three human traffickers who have been identified as Win Kyaw, Aye Thein and Maung Kyaw.Last Mod: 29 Ekim 2016, 12:08