Fortify Rights Myanmar: Authorities Complicit in Rohingya Trafficking, Smuggling
°Eyewitness and Survivor Testimonies
Some people didn’t have proper food or water [on the ship at sea] and got very mad. When that happened the [traffickers] stabbed them and threw them in the sea. Six people were killed and thrown in the sea. And then some people got so upset they just jumped in the water. There were men, women, and children on board. All the people who were killed were men. All six managers [of the ship] were [Rohingya] from Alay Than Kyaw [Rakhine State]. The knives were maybe 8 inches long. … They had weapons also in the boat.
— Fortify Rights interview with “D.D.,” Rohingya boy, 17, from Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State, September 17, 2014
About 12 people died on the journey [by ship from Rakhine State to Thailand]. When they were beaten they had heavy pain, and there was a shortage of water and food. We prayed and cried for rain so we could get some water to drink. The traffickers knew one of the 12 would die so the men threw his body overboard while he was still alive. He was an older [Rohingya] man.
— Fortify Rights interview with “A.Z.,” Rohingya boy, 16, from Sittwe, Rakhine State, August 11, 2014
When we reached Sittwe [offshore], the Navy arrested us all, and we had to pay 7-million kyat ($7,000 USD) to be released. When the Navy seized us, they took us as a group. The captain of the boat went to the Navy, and after two hours, he came back to the boat. We were cleared after we paid 7-million kyat ($7,000 USD). No one was taken off the boat. We were worried about what was happening, and when the captain came back, we asked the Rohingya guard [trafficker], and he said there was no problem at all. He said they already paid 7-million kyat ($7,000 USD) and that we could go. It was a big Navy boat. I saw about 15 Navy persons with guns.
—Fortify Rights interview with “E.D.,” Rohingya man, 27, September 27, 2014
When we got on the boat, we didn’t see anyone, but in the sea, we ran into the Myanmar Navy. When we were close to the Navy, two people from our boat got on the Navy boat and then came back to our boat, and we started moving. The Navy stayed with our boat for two and a half hours. After that, [the Navy] provided some rations and showed the way to Malaysia. I saw six or seven Navy soldiers. It was a big Navy ship. We left Myanmar, so maybe they helped us to go. They are driving people out of the country.
—Fortify Rights interview with “A.G.,” Rohingya man, 43, from Minbya, Rakhine State, August 13, 2014
When we first left Sittwe, there was a [police] checkpoint to go from Sittwe to the boat. We had to pay money at the checkpoint. … At sea, we saw the Myanmar Naval ship. They stopped us, and two people from our boat talked to the Navy. After the discussion, the Navy helped our boat along for two hours. They helped us leave Myanmar, and they provided rations for us to leave. They provided oil, fish, and rice. There were two big Navy boats.
—Fortify Rights interview with “A.I.,” Rohingya man, 20, from Sittwe, Rakhine State, August 13, 2014
I had to sell a gold chain to get on the boat. I don’t know what I paid; I gave them my gold chain. I gave the chain to the boat owner and he gave it to the [security forces]. I didn’t see him give it to the [security forces] but they were standing right there. I realized that they paid the [security forces] because they didn’t arrest us. There were many there. There were at least 25 [soldiers] when we were getting on the boat. When the 25 [soldiers] came, they weren’t allowing us to get on the boat. I said, “Okay, if you need money, I will give you my chain.” I gave it to the boat owner. The [security forces] were all Burman. They had three stars on their shirts.
—Fortify Rights interview with “Z.C.,” Rohingya woman, 50, from Sittwe, Rakhine State, August 12, 2014
When we were trying to get on the boat, [Lon Thein security forces] came and said they wouldn’t allow us to leave. We said we had no food and had to leave. They collected 380,000 kyat ($380 USD) from us. We gave them the money and they let us leave. They said, “Okay, you can leave here. This is not your country.” I wanted to kill them when I heard that, but they had the weapons.
—Fortify Rights interview with “Z.C.,” Rohingya man, 27, from Myebon, Rakhine State, August 10, 2014
When I saw the big boat, I was scared. I thought, how could we go there? All 27 of us wanted to go back [to shore]. We were scared. The big boat was already full. We were the last passengers getting on the boat. We all said we would wait for another boat. But they wouldn’t let us. … We were only given a small portion of rice and water twice a day. … They beat us. They beat almost every person on the boat. They used a plastic pipe.
—Fortify Rights interview with “Z.E.,” Rohingya man, 19, from Maungdaw Township, August 10, 2014
The main reason I left [Myanmar by sea] was because we weren’t allowed to move around. We couldn’t move from one village to another. We needed a permit. Sometimes when we had permission, the army would still beat us, and they’d ask for money. They mainly do this because they’re trying to slowly kill us all. They restrict us and don’t let us move from village to village because they want us to die and to starve. We need to travel to other villages to survive. People would die without food and medicine. This is a deliberate plan.
—Fortify Rights interview with “E.H.,” Rohingya man, 27, from Mrauk U, Rakhine State, September 28, 2014
I had to leave Rakhine State because of hunger. I was in Bariza [IDP] camp. They [UN agencies] provided for one person only a cup of rice and a little oil. We also had only half rations because we needed the rest to buy other things, like fuel. I was living in the IDP camps, and it was very difficult and a very hard time, and that’s why I realized I had to leave the country.
—Fortify Rights interview with “F.I.,” Rohingya girl, 15, from Sittwe, Rakhine State, October 1, 2014
After my neighbor was shot, I stayed for another two weeks in my village. The military continued to come to the village to arrest and beat people. One evening when they came, my family and I fled from our home. It was around 8 pm at night. I was separated from my mother and sisters. I was with 35 villagers. We found an old fishing boat without an engine on the beach. We didn’t know the owner, but we knew we had to leave for our lives, so we took this boat to Bangladesh. I hadn’t planned to leave, but I couldn’t continue to live in Myanmar.
—Fortify Rights interview with “H.A.,” Rohingya boy, 17, from Duchiridan, Rakhine State, September 15, 2014°
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