TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Thirty-seven people believed to be Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar were found on a beach in northern Malaysia Monday, police said.
Dozens of Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh have boarded boats in recent months to try to reach Malaysia as they flee Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Last month, 35 migrants were found on Sungai Belati beach in the northern state of Perlis.
On Monday, 37 men were detained around the town of Simpang Empat after landing at the same beach in the early morning, state police chief Noor Mushar Mohamad told Reuters.
“We believe they were travelling on a much larger boat, before being transferred into smaller boats at sea and taken to different places,” he said, adding the men were in good health and have been handed over to immigration officials.
More than 700,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh in 2017 fleeing a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, according to UN agencies.
Myanmar regards Rohingya as illegal migrants from the Indian subcontinent and has confined tens of thousands to sprawling camps in Rakhine since violence swept the area in 2012.
Officials believe the migrants found Monday are from Myanmar or Bangladesh.
“We are still investigating where the boats are coming from, but we suspect human trafficking syndicates are involved,” Noor Mushar said.
The UN has stopped short of officially designating the purge of Muslims from Myanmar as genocide, but it has reiterated that the crackdown, which has seen many people killed, lots of homes and villages torched and women raped by the military and Buddhist mobs, is a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.