Sixty-three Muslims — 29 men and 34 women — and four crew members were arrested yesterday near a beach in Maungtaw, Rakhine State after their boat, which had run out of fuel on its way to Malaysia, was discovered by the border guard police.
The crew members were found in possession of one gun and 99 bullets.
Acting on a tip, the police had searched the area near the beach in Myinlut Village and found the boat, stranded and filled with water.
Later, the police had found 63 passengers, including Hamad Tusaung, also known as Kyaw Hla, and four of the boat’s crew, including helmsman Zaw Latt from Kawthoung, in a tent near Gyintaw Village.
During interrogation, it was found that Hamid Tusaung from Bumay Village in Sittway Township, who had been working in Malaysia as a mason since 2012, had returned home after reaching an agreement with a Malaysian human trafficker to smuggle local Muslims into Malaysia. The trafficker also gave him 3,000 Malaysian Ringitt to serve as an interpreter in the mission.
In June, Hamid Tusaung arrived back in Kawthoung by boat after the Malaysian trafficker arranged his trip with Chit Ko, a boat owner, in Kawthoung.
On 25 June, Hamid Tusaung left Thahtay Island in Kawthoung by a boat navigated by Zaw Latt, and they anchored in the Bangladeshi territorial waters near St. Martin Island, also known as Ohn island.
Three days later, Hamid Tusaung phoned Lubi and Rabi in Taknaf, Bangladesh, and 14 men and 20 women from Kutupalaung, Barlukhali, Musoni, and Htankarli refugee camps joined him by boat.
He also phoned his mother Annawah Baygo, also known as Annuwahphagon, in Bumay village, Sittway, and she brought 14 men and 13 women from Saythamargyi, Phwetargon, Sakhankwe, Bawmugaw, and Darpein camps for displaced people by boat to him.
He set off on the journey to Malaysia by boat after reaching an agreement with 62 Muslims, charging them K1.7 million per person for the journey.
Around 2 a.m. on 7 July, the boat ran out of fuel, and it drifted to the shore, carried by the waves in severe weather.
During interrogation, the four crew members, identified as Zaw Latt, Shwe Latt (a) Kayin, a mechanic, Kyaw Zin Thant, and Kyaw Soe Tun, confessed that they were hired by Chit Ko, the boat’s owner, and were paid Baht 5,000 per person. They said they were sent to a boat named ‘Ta-Aung Soe Kyaw’ anchored off the Thahtay Island.
Under the instructions of Hamid Tusaung, they drove the boat towards Bangladesh, and one gun and 99 bullets were given to Zaw Latt for defending the boat at sea.
Charges have been filed against the four crew members, Hamid Tusaung, and his mother Annawah Baygon, under the human trafficking law at the Ale Thankyaw Police Station.
A case has also been opened against the four crew and Hamid Tusaung under the Arms Law at the same police station.
Chit Ko, the owner of the boat, has been arrested along with drugs in Ranaung, Thailand, by the Thai Royal Police Force.
The Myanmar Police Force will exchange information with the respective countries to expose those involved in the human trafficking case. —MNA
(Translated by TTN)