Cars hit and killed six Rohingya refugees on a Malaysian highway today. 582 Rohingya refugees had escaped a temporary immigration detention centre, when two men, two woman, and a boy and a girl were hit and killed trying to cross a highway in Kedah state.
Before the escape, a riot had broken out in a detention centre in Penang state. Police are still investigating what caused the riot, and 362 of the 582 refugees who escaped were re-arrested, according to the immigration department. The highway is about eight kilometres away from the centre.
In a statement, the immigration department said the Rohingya refugees had broken down doors and barrier grills in the centre. Rohingyas in Myanmar have been rounded up into refugee centres since 2020. Malaysian authorities claim this is part of Covid-19 measures.
Over 700,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar since 2017. That year, Rohingya militants launched arson attacks against over 30 police posts. Myanmar’s military, and local Buddhist mobs, then burned down Rohingya villages, killed civilians, and raped Rohingya women. US President Joe Biden has determined that the violence against the Rohingya minority committed by Myanmar’s military in 2017 amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity, a US official told Reuters on last month.
Many Rohingyas have fled to Malaysia, although the country does not recognise refugee status. Many Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, have been criticized for their treatment of Rohingya refugees. In 2019, police arrested a man who they believe trafficked at least 200 Rohingya refugees into Thailand on their way to Malaysia.