Rohingyan Muslims are an ethnic group who practice Islam and speak a language related Bengali. The origin of this group of people is disputed with some saying they are indigenous to the state of Rakhine in Myanmar while others contend they are migrants who came from Bengal, latterly Bangladesh, to Burma (Myanmar) during the period of British colonial rule. According to the United Nations, Rohingyans are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Many Rohingyans have fled Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh and to areas along the Thai-Myanmar border.
120 Rohingya asylum seekers rescued by Indonesian fisherman
More than 120 Rohingya, including six women and two children, were found adrift late on Tuesday by fishermen around 25km from the village of Cot Truen
Fishermen have rescued more than 100 ethnic Rohingya asylum seekers from Myanmar who were found drifting in a wooden boat off western Indonesia, an official said yesterday.
The 121 Rohingya, including six women and two children, were found adrift late on Tuesday by fishermen around 25 kilometres from the village of Cot Trueng, on the northernmost tip of Sumatra island in Aceh province. "Their boat ran out of petrol as they tried to sail from Myanmar to Thailand," village chief Mukhtar Samsyah said, adding that they had fled Myanmar to escape sectarian conflict.
He said the Rohingya were found in a weak condition but had recovered after being given food, water and a place to sleep before being sent to a detention centre in Lhokseumawe city.
The UN considers the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim ethnic group, one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, and Myanmar views its roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, denying them citizenship.
Buddhist-Muslim unrest in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine has left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced since June. Almost 6,000 Rohingya fleeing the violence have illegally entered Thai waters since October, the Thai army said this month.
In the latest claims of atrocities in Rakhine, members of Myanmar's border security unit have been accused of raping 11 Rohingya women in a prolonged attack in northern Maungdaw township. The rapes took place last Wednesday night, said Chris Lewa, head of the Arakan Project, which has monitoring teams in Maungdaw.
"Sexual violence by Nasaka [border security officers] against Rohingya women has been documented for many years," said Matthew Smith, a researcher with Human Rights Watch.
Additional reporting by The Guardian