Malaysia Detains Asylum Seekers from Burma

Posted December 31st, 2012 at 1:40 am (UTC-5)
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Malaysian police say they have detained around 450 asylum seekers from Burma after they illegally landed in Malaysia.

A police official on Malaysia's northern Langkawi island said Rohingya Muslims arrived Sunday after nearly two weeks in a wooden boat.

The official said he does not know whether the group will be allowed to stay. The asylum seekers are in detention while their cases are being investigated.

Rohingyas do not have official minority status in Burma. Many in Burma consider them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and resent them.

Tensions between the majority Buddhists and Muslim communities in Burma's Rakhine state have turned into deadly violence in recent months.

Close to 200 people have been killed on both sides and more than 100,000 have been displaced, the vast majority of them Rohingya Muslims.

The head of humanitarian affairs for the United Nations, Valerie Amos, recently paid a four-day visit to refugee camps in Rakhine state. She said the living conditions in them are among the worst she had ever seen.