Yangon groups stage protest against UN statements on boat people

Activists protest over UN and international media statements about boat people staged in Yangon

Members of several religious and nationalist groups staged a protest in Yangon on May 27 to denounce statements issued by the UN and various international media regarding the boat people stranded in the Andaman Sea and Malacca Straits. About 200 protesters and journalists attended the protest in Yangon's Tamwe Township.

“We denounced the United Nations and international media, which fabricated news about the boat people as if they were from Myanmar. We cannot recognise these people as citizens of Myanmar. At present, the UN and international media are exerting pressure on Myanmar to accept these boat people. They should not be biased about the boat people and should report the true facts. If this kind of fabricated news continues, we will continue our protest,” said protest leader Maung Maung Kha.

The protestors wore t-shirts bearing the lines: “Boat people are not Myanmar. Stop blaming Myanmar.” They chanted slogans like: “Bengalis, don’t come to our land. Stop being biased, UN."

“What we are doing is neither for political purposes nor for a party. We are doing this for the national cause. There was never any Rohingya in our country. Those who participated in this protest are not government staff. We are doing this for the sake of our country,” said protester Min Min.

On May 21, about 208 migrants, whose places of origin are disputed, were arrested in Myanmar waters. The Bangladeshi consul in Sittwe conducted background check on them on May 26.

On May 25, the UN confirmed that 200 of the 208 boat people are from Bangladesh. However, Reuters news agency reported on May 27 that just before the Bangladeshi migrants were rescued, about 100 migrants from Myanmar were removed from the boat.