Myanmar state security forces are complicit in and are profiting from increasingly lucrative maritime human trafficking and the smuggling of Rohingya Muslims from the country's Rakhine State, Fortify Rights revealed in a briefing yesterday.
Since 2012, security forces in Rakhine State have collected payments from Rohingya asylum seekers fleeing Myanmar by ships operated by transnational criminal syndicates, according to information obtained by the independent human rights organisation. In some cases, the Myanmar navy escorted boats run by criminal gangs out to international waters, it claimed.
"Not only are the authorities making life so intolerable for Rohingya that they're forced to flee, but they're also profiting from the exodus," said Matthew Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights. "This is a regional crisis that's worsening, while Myanmar authorities are treating it like a perverse pay day."
The report added that local Rohingya brokers mostly delivered payments to members of the Lon Thein riot police, Myanmar Police, the navy, and the army in amounts ranging from Ks500,000 (S$631) to Ks600,000 per shipload of Rohingya asylum seekers in exchange for passage out to sea.
In one case documented by Fortify Rights, the navy demanded Ks7 million from a criminal gang operating a ship filled with Rohingya fleeing to Malaysia.
In other cases, police took up to Ks15,000 per person directly from individual Rohingya passengers, the group said.