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129 boat people from Myanmar rescued off Indonesia's Aceh.

JAKARTA, Feb. 16 Kyodo

Nearly 130 boat people from Myanmar were rescued by Indonesian maritime police after their vessel was found drifting in the waters off Sumatra island's Aceh Province overnight, a maritime police said Wednesday.

They said a total of 129 people, all men in their 20s except for a 13-year-old boy, were on the vessel found in waters about 200 kilometers east of the provincial capital Banda Aceh.

''They had been traveling in the sea for 20 days from Myanmar to a 'Muslim country' before the engine of their wooden boat broke down,'' Muhammad Zaini, director of the maritime police department at the Aceh Police Headquarters, told Kyodo News without identifying the Muslim country.

He said they claim to be Rohingyas, a Muslim minority group that has suffered decades of persecution in Myanmar.

Since Myanmar gained independence in 1948, the Rohingyas have had a history of exodus and forced migration resulting from the policies of exclusion imposed on them by successive Myanmar governments.

They have also been targeted for compulsory labor in the construction and maintenance of military camps, military-owned farms and plantations

About 800,000 Rohingyas are said to still live in Myanmar. Thousands of others have fled to Bangladesh, Malaysia and other countries. Many have also applied for asylum but they are rarely accepted as refugees fleeing persecution, instead being labeled as economic migrants.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Geographic Code:9MYAN
Date:Feb 21, 2011
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