More than 100 Refugees ‘Dumped’ into Sea
07 October 2011 – PENANG, Malaysia: More than 100 refugees believed to be Rohingyas who fled from Burma were forced to leave their boat after days of starvation at sea, 500 meters away from Malaysia’s shore.
All of them were reported traveling by boat from Bangladesh to Penang Island in Malaysia for 10 days with little food supply.
To avoid being detected by the Malaysian authorities, the Rohingyas were forced to jump into the sea at around 3am on Thursday clutching their belongings along with pails, broken life jackets and whatever floating objects available.
All were believed to have reached the shore at a beach in Penang Island, except some men who could not make the full distance and stopped at a tiny Island about 300m offshore.
Luck however was not on their side after 97 exhausted refugees were caught by the Malaysian police while scores of others have gotten away.
Local police chief, Mohd. Hatta Mohd. Zain said the refugees were totally exhausted after not having any food for three to five days.
“We gave them bread and mineral water, some were too weak even to break the seals of the water bottles.”
“We were confident that all the undocumented migrants had made it to shore,” he said.
He also said marine police detained a large fishing boat some 30 nautical miles from shore with 14 more Burmese nationals on board.
The boat was believed to be the vessel which brought in the refugees but did not want to come ashore.
A refugee told local media that he paid 10,000 Bangladeshi Taka (US$132) to an agent who promised to bring him to Malaysia.
Reporting by Thomas Chong