More Than 100 Rohingya Flee A Malaysian Detention Center

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — More than 100 Rohingya immigrants have escaped from a detention center in Malaysia after a protest, with one confirmed killed in a road accident, officials said Friday.

This was the second time in two years that such a breakout occurred. In 2022, 528 Rohingya refugees staged a protest and escaped from detention in northern Penang state. Six were killed while trying to cross a highway, and most of the others were rearrested.

Immigration Department Director-General Ruslin Jusoh said in a statement that 131 detainees escaped from a center in Perak state late Thursday. He said one of the detainees was killed in a road accident. Nearly 400 personnel were deployed to hunt them down, he added, without giving details on what sparked the breakout.

District police chief Mohamad Naim Asnawi was quoted by national Bernama news agency as saying that the immigrants escaped from the men's block after a riot broke out at the center. The suspects included 115 Rohingya and 16 Myanmar nationals, all males, he said.

Malaysia, which has a dominant Muslim population, is a preferred destination for Muslim Rohingya fleeing from Buddhist-majority Myanmar or those seeking to escape misery in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Malaysia doesn’t grant refugee status, but it houses about 180,000 refugees and asylum seekers accredited with the United Nations refugee agency, including more than 100,000 Rohingya and other Myanmar ethnic groups. Thousands stay in the country illegally after arriving by sea.