14 bodies found washed up on Myanmar beach
The bodies of 14 people have been found washed up on a beach in Myanmar, police told AFP on Monday, with a local rescue group saying some were Rohingya attempting to reach Malaysia.
The migrants had been travelling by boat from western Myanmar, according to a local Rohingya activist.
“Fourteen dead bodies were found, and 35 people including the boat owners were rescued alive,” said Lieutenant Colonel Tun Shwe, a police spokesperson in Pathein district, around 200 kilometres west of Yangon.
A member of Myanmar Rescue Organization Pathein who requested anonymity said they found eight bodies on Sunday and all were from the Rohingya minority.
A local Rohingya activist told AFP that 12 women and two boys had died.
The boat had been carrying people from the towns of Buthidaung, Maungdaw, and Sittwe in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the activist added, also requesting anonymity.
Survivors said 61 people had been on board the vessel, the rescue group member told AFP, leaving 12 still missing.
Those who had been saved were being held at Pathein police station, spokesperson Tun Shwe said.
He did not say whether any would be charged — as sometimes happens to Rohingya caught trying to flee Myanmar.
– Perilous journeys –
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar since 2017 after a military crackdown that refugees say included mass killings and rape.
Those Rohingya still in Myanmar are widely seen as interlopers from Bangladesh and are denied citizenship, many rights and access to services.
The leader of Myanmar’s junta regime Min Aung Hlaing — who was head of the armed forces during the 2017 crackdown — has dismissed the label Rohingya as “an imaginary term”.
Each year hundreds of Rohingya make perilous, months-long journeys by sea to other parts of Southeast Asia.
Relatively affluent Malaysia is usually the favoured destination.
Many arrive by boat after enduring harrowing, months-long journeys at sea.
Those caught are often sent to detention centres, which rights groups say are typically overcrowded and filthy.
Hundreds of Rohingya migrants escaped a detention centre in Malaysia last month after a riot broke out, with six killed on a highway as they fled, authorities said.