Myanmar authorities arrest two in Rohingya IDP camp raid; four others shot

Rohingya Muslim women ride a police vehicle in Kyauktan township south of Yangon on November 16, 2018 after their boat washed ashore. (Photo by Hla-Hla HTAY / AFP)

A Sunday raid by police on a Rohingya IDP camp outside Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, ended with two men in custody on suspicion of human trafficking and four others shot and injured, at least two outlets are reporting.

About 20 police rushed into Ah Nauk Ywe camp, about 15 kilometers east of Sittwe, in the early morning hours, arresting two men suspected of owning the boat that attempted to smuggle 106 Rohingya out of Myanmar on Friday, according to Reuters.

When hundreds of camp residents attempted to block the attempted arrest, they fired more than 200 rounds to disperse the crowd, one camp resident told RFA Burmese, a figure disputed by police.

“The two men had sold the boat. What the government wants to say is that they [106 Muslims] came from this camp, so they are accusing the people from this camp of trafficking and arresting them,” said Ko Maung Maung Aye.

“When they saw a crowd trying to stop them, they started shooting. They used about 200 rounds. We aren’t trafficking in our IDP camp. We don’t know if they are in other camps or not.”

A Twitter thread from Rohingya activist Aung Aung containing graphic videos and pictures allegedly taken at the Ah Nauk Ywe IDP camp shows bloody and injured men being carried away as well as shots of their injuries. Pictures also show spent rounds allegedly used in the police raid.

In an interview with RFA, Ah Nauk Police Officer Kyaw Sein said that witnesses among the 106 would-be refugees arrested on Friday had pointed to the involvement of the two men at the IDP camp.

“They told us in Yangon. That’s why we were arresting them,” he told the outlet. “They tried to take back the defendants. They threw rocks at us. There were about 300, 400 of them. There were a lot of people so we shot 10 or 20 times.”

The boat, carrying 50 men, 31 women and 25 children, was allegedly bound for Malaysia when Myanmar authorities stopped the vessel, just southeast of Yangon, and arrested the passengers on Friday.

Since violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims swept the state in 2012, tens of thousands of Rohingya have been relocated and isolated in IDP camps outside of Sittwe, where rights activists say they have been denied basic freedom of movement and access to healthcare and education, segregated and abused in “open air prisons.

The 106 Rohingya detained Friday have since been sent back on a navy ship back to Northern Rakhine State.

More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh in the wake of a brutal military campaign that has included widespread claims of murder, rape and ethnic cleansing in Northern Rakhine, according to UN agencies.

Myanmar has denied almost all charges, saying the military campaign was part of a “clearance operation” to root out terrorists that attacked army’s outposts in Maungdaw District, Northern Rakhine.

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