News / Asia

Burma Boat Rescue Called Off

Location

Authorities in Burma Monday reported no signs of additional survivors after a boat in the Bay of Bengal, loaded with Muslim Rohingya, capsized and sank Sunday. It is among the latest incidents generating increased concern about the plight of the stateless minority.

A Muslim community leader in Sittwe said the ill-fated journey from Burma to Bangladesh began Saturday evening with about 80 people, including women and children, on board a vessel overloaded with smuggled goods.

Aung Win said when the boat sank in the Bay of Bengal nearly everyone drowned. Five bodies were recovered by relatives and buried on a nearby beach. “Eight to 10 people survived but those people are hiding in nearby villages because they are afraid of police arrest so nobody can confirm the survivor number,” said Win.

While many ethnic Rohingya have lived in Burma for decades, the government does not recognize them as citizens.

Rights groups said the community has long faced discrimination, and repeatedly been victims of police brutality. Last year, violence against the community escalated, driving many from their homes and into temporary camps. Periodic violence continues.

A Burmese security officer and a U.N. official in the country, both speaking on condition they not be named, said several more Rohingya died during violent clashes in recent days in the Pauktaw area, about two hours north of Sittwe by boat.

A Rohingya man was found dead near a Buddhist pagoda where a group had gone to collect firewood from the Sin Tet Maw camp for internally displaced persons. The Rohingya blamed the killing on “Rakhine thugs.”

In a subsequent confrontation near the camp with angry Rohingya who went to retrieve the body, sources say, police opened fire. One person was killed and at least two more were wounded.

There are also reports that the body of another Rohingya man was found Sunday morning and that a Rakhine woman was killed in what appears to be a retaliatory attack.  

A veteran political analyst on Burma, Richard Horsey, said there is a perception that Burma's police have become more assertive in confronting the Rohingya.

“This new readiness to use force, of course, comes with huge risks because for a police force that is not well equipped and trained to deal with riot situations the use of force can also go wrong,” Horsey said.

Since last year's escalation of violence in Rakhine state, many Rohingya have been leaving, primarily for Thailand and Malaysia, believing their lives will improve in those countries.

The U.N. High Commission for Refugees said as many as 1,500 people have fled in the last week. But the U.N. and other international organizations saidthey have not been able to gather more specific, reliable information.

Non-governmental groups express concern that once on other shores the undocumented refugees face exploitation by human traffickers.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid