World Bulletin / News Desk
A Myanmar court has postponed a verdict on 17 Rohingya who have been charged with illegally entering Yangon in an effort to get to Malaysia utilizing human trafficking rings.
The Muslim ethnic group has been unable to move freely since a 1982 law removed their citizenship rights and confined them to designated areas, many of them internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in western Rakhine State.
On Monday, a court in North Okalapa Township postponed the sentencing to Nov. 21 after more charges were brought against the men under the country's Penal Code.
The 17 had already been charged with five others -- sentenced to two years jail with hard labor Oct. 29 -- for “illegal intrusion” according to the Residents of Burma Registration Act of 1949.
A police officer, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak to media, said by phone Monday that the men are also facing criminal charges under the Penal Code and Immigration Act.
"These Bengalis are facing heavy penalties under several charges," he said, using a politically motivated term that suggests the Rohingya are illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
Last month, police arrested the 22 Rohingya in two separate raids in Yangon on human trafficking rings.
The men had traveled from the impoverished state of Rakhine to Yangon, where police said they were being temporarily sheltered before being smuggled to Malaysia.
Each 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 the former capital.
The officer said that the men were arrested while awaiting money from their families to pay traffickers extra to smuggle them to Malaysia through Thailand.
Police have said that two suspected traffickers were arrested Oct. 25 in Rakhine, while three others remain at large.
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.
The violence left around 57 Muslims and 31 Buddhists dead, some 100,000 people displaced in camps and more than 2,500 houses razed -- most of which belonged to Rohingya.
For years, members of the minority have been using Thailand as a transit point to enter Muslim Malaysia and beyond.
A law passed in Myanmar in 1982 denied Rohingya -- many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations -- citizenship, making them stateless, removing their freedom of movement, access to education and services, and allowing for arbitrary confiscation of property.
AALast Mod: 07 Kasım 2016, 14:43