Bangkok Desk, Apr 20 (EFE).- Hundreds of Rohingyas escaped from an immigration detention center in the northwest of Malaysia and six were killed while fleeing, authorities said Wednesday.
“A total of 528 Rohingya detainees have escaped from the Sungai Bakap Temporary Immigration Depot, Penang. The incident happened on April 20, 2022 at 4.30am (20:30 GMT Tuesday),” the immigration department said in a statement.
Of the total number of escapees, 362 had been re-arrested by 10 am, it said, adding that they had fled after breaking down doors and grills.
An early morning protest at the center had led to a riot and the subsequent escape, local media outlet The Star reported.
Six of those who fled – two men, two women, a boy and a girl – were killed when hit by vehicles while crossing an expressway, according to state news outlet Bernama, citing Penang police chief Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain.
Roadblocks have been erected in the search for the escapees and the public has been warned by authorities against protecting them.
The relatively prosperous Malaysia has been for years one of the preferred destinations of the Rohingya, a stateless ethnic Muslim minority from Myanmar, whose authorities do not officially recognize them and subject them to many kinds of discrimination.
In August 2017, the Myanmar army launched a military campaign against the Rohingya population in Rakhine state, for which the government faces accusations of genocide before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
This military operation led to more than 725,000 Rohingya fleeing into neighboring Bangladesh, joining thousands of others who fled in previous years into precarious conditions in the world’s largest network of refugee camps.
Southeast Asia experienced a refugee crisis in 2015, when thousands of Rohingya were left adrift on boats for weeks after authorities in Thailand and Malaysia dismantled human smuggling networks that transported them to those countries from Myanmar. EFE