Rohingya children sentenced to prison for trying to leave Myanmar
A court in Myanmar (formerly Burma) has sentenced a dozen children from the Rohingya minority to prison terms of between two and three years for traveling without documents, the official press reported today.
The minors, five of whom are under the age of 13, are part of a group of 112 Rohingya detained in December in the southeast region of Bogale, near the Irrawaddy River delta in the Andaman Sea, when they were on a speedboat with the intention of proceed to Malaysia.
The court sentenced the five under-13-year-olds to two years in prison, while it imposed a three-year prison sentence on the seven under-17-year-olds, reported The Global New Light newspaper.
The newspaper, controlled by the military since the February 2021 coup, indicated that minors were transferred on Sunday from a prison to an education center for minors in the city of Rangoon.
The adults, 53 men and 47 women, were sentenced to five years in prison in a decision announced on Friday, the daily reported.
Burmese authorities do not recognize the citizenship of the Rohingya community, believed to be descended from illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, subjecting the Muslim minority to restrictions on freedom of movement, health and education.
A boat with more than 184 Rohingya, many of them women and children, disembarked on Sunday in the province of Aceh, in northwest Indonesia. The group was moved to a nearby location for temporary shelter.
This is the third known group to arrive in Aceh recently, following the December 25 arrival of a boat carrying 57 Rohingya, a day after a first boat carrying 174 from Myanmar’s persecuted Muslim minority.
In August 2017, the Burmese army launched a military campaign against the Rohingya population in northern Rakhine state. The country is currently facing an indictment of genocide before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The brutal military operation led to the exodus of more than 720,000 refugees to neighboring Bangladesh, many of whom remain in the world’s largest complex of refugee camps, in the Cox’s Bazar region, in the south-east of the country.
The February 1, 2021 coup plunged Myanmar into a deep political, social and economic crisis and opened a spiral of violence, with new civilian militias that exacerbated the guerrilla war that the country has been experiencing for decades.
At least 2,707 people died in the brutal crackdown by the security forces and more than 13,270 remain in detention, according to the latest update from the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP).
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