The Myanmar (Burmese) anti-human trafficking police has been threatening the Rohingya boat-victims in Maungdaw Township for ransom for a few months.
The victims now released by the authorities and the Maungdaw court were arrested after their boat was captured by the Myanmar Navy in Bay of Bengal off Myanmar coast in May 2015.
On 21st May 2015, the Navy captured their boat with more than 200 people on board trying to flee to Malaysia. After capturing the boat, the navy informed the Maungdaw authorities and handed the people over to them.
The authorities took the boat-people on the land via the ‘Ang Ngu Maw’ jetty in southern-most Maungdaw on May 22. Of them, the authorities took away a few people (who were also Rohingyas) along with them secretly from public eyes and left 228 people behind.
From 228 people, 20 people were again separately sent to Maungdaw Police station. Of the 20 people, 8 were boat-workers from ‘Irrawaddy’ division who were later imprisoned to 8 years each for people smuggling.
From the remaining 208 people, 8 were the local Rohingyas of Kyauktaw Township and hence sent to their native township.
The Maungdaw authorities set up IDP camps at ‘Taungpyo Letwai’ sub-township in northern Maungdaw Township for the remaining 200 people and kept there for some weeks. From the 200 people, after investigations, the people identified to be the locals (Rohingyas) of Maungdaw were also released respectively.
And the authorities kept the Bangladeshi Nationals in the IDP camps for some more days with the help of UNHCR and later transferred them to Bangladesh.
Of the boat-victims of Maungdaw, four people (names withheld for security reasons) hail from ‘Kyikan Pyin (Khawar Bil)’ village have been constantly under threats of the Anti-Human Trafficking Police looking for chances to torture the victims for ransom.
“The anti-human trafficking police have summoned the victims several times through the village administration on pretext that they (the victims need to be investigated/on trial in Maungdaw. However, they didn’t meet the police for the fear of getting tortured.
On January 20, U Tin Hla, the Clerk of Crime Records Department at the Border Guard Police (BGP) in the Headquarter in Kyikan Pyin village also summoned them. However, they didn’t go and meet the police because they feared that they will face arbitrary detentions if they couldn’t fulfil the police demands for ransom.
This is just nothing but that the police are trying to torture them for ransom money. If the court requires them to be trial, why would the court acquit/release them at first,” said an elderly Rohingya in Maungdaw.