Bangkok, Nov 30 (EFE).- Myanmar has arrested 228 members of the oppressed Rohingya minority after seizing the boat in which they were traveling near the waters of Sittwe in the northwest of the country, state media reported Tuesday.
Seventy men, 125 women, and 33 children were traveling in “the suspicious motorboat” for possible human trafficking, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said.
They were arrested along with the five Myanmar crew members and would be handed over to the police, the newspaper added.
A photograph published by the official newspaper of the ruling military showed the passengers crowded into the motorboat.
Rohingyas have been rendered stateless after the government stripped them of their citizenship in the early 1990s.
The mainly-Muslim minority has faced discrimination for decades as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh despite living in the country for generations.
Lacking citizenship and documents, Rohingyas cannot move freely within their own country and are arrested by the police and prosecuted when they try to do so.
The Myanmar authorities deny discrimination and consider the Rohingya not as an ethnic minority but as immigrants from South Asia.
In August 2017, the Myanmar military launched an offensive against the Rohingya in the northern Rakhine state following several attacks by insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army against police and military posts.
The brutal military operation, which sparked accusations of “intentional genocide” by the United Nations, prompted the exodus of some 725,000 Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh, where they live in the world’s largest refugee camp.
Worsening the decades-long plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar is the deep political, economic and social crisis in the country since the military seized power in a coup on Feb.1. EFE