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Myanmar police arrest 100 Rohingya for traveling in their own country

In this file photo, taken on August 31, 2017, broken dishes can be seen in the burnt-out remains of a house in Myo Thu Gyi Muslim village near Maungdaw town in Rakhine, Myanmar. (By AFP)

Police in Myanmar have arrested about 100 people from the Rohingya Muslim community for leaving their native western state of Rakhine.

The arrests were made during a raid on a house in Shwe Pyi Thar township of Yangon Region on Wednesday.

The local Tomorrow News Journal published photos showing several barefoot men and dozens of women in colorful head scarves sitting on the ground in a courtyard.

Tin Maung Lwin, a police captain from Shwe Pyi Thar, said either 98 or 99 people had been arrested, but declined to provide further details.

"The investigation is still ongoing," he said.

Myanmar frequently arrests Rohingya Muslims on grounds of "illegal travel" for attempting to escape "apartheid conditions" in Rakhine.

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmar soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017 in what the UN has said was genocide. Some 800,000 other Rohingya survived only by fleeing to Bangladesh, where they live in cramped camps.

Another 600,000 Rohingya Muslims still remain in Myanmar under apartheid-like conditions, confined to camps and villages and denied access to healthcare and education and unable to travel freely.

The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Myanmar and considered illegal immigrants, despite their ancestral roots dating back centuries.

"It is outrageous that Myanmar authorities continue their policy of arresting Rohingya for merely travelling in their own country," John Quinley, senior human rights specialist at Fortify Rights, said.

"The group arrested in Yangon should be immediately and unconditionally released."

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