Myanmar’s navy is escorting a boat crammed with 727 abandoned migrants to an undisclosed location, four days after intercepting it in the Andaman Sea, the country’s information minister said on Tuesday.
The migrants, who were found drifting on Friday in a converted fishing boat that was taking on water, wanted to go to Bangladesh rather than Myanmar and the navy was assisting them, said Ye Htut, who is also Myanmar’s presidential spokesman.
Ye Htut did not say where the migrants were from.
Al Jazeera’s Florence Looi, reporting from Yangon, said the presidential spokesman told her that the navy would take those on board to an undisclosed location.
He refused to clarify whether this would still be at sea or on land, but he said that from there they would be then transferred to Bangladesh.
“This fits into the Myanmar government narrative – that the tens of thousands of people getting on boats trying to escape wherever they’re from are actually all from Bangladesh. The government refuses to accept that many of these people are actually Rohingya,” she said.
According to Human Rights Watch and other rights groups, Rohingya – who have lived in Myanmar for generations – are victims of an ongoing ethnic cleansing. Al Jazeera