Over a hundred Myanmar fishermen have returned home yesterday after serving prison terms in India for illegal fishing and entering foreign waters, according to local sources.
Most of the seamen are from Ayeyarwady Region, one from Yangon Region, five from Rakhine State, nine from Tanintharyi Region and one from Mon State. Some of them claimed they accidentally entered Indian waters due to unexpected storms and engine failures while others were arrested for illegal fishing.
“I had served two years and six months in prison terms there for illegal fishing. I’m still not sure what to do for my living here. But I will never do that fishing job again,” said Myint Zaw, a seaman from Rakhine.
Myanmar Airways International transported them back to home free of charge with cooperative support from the Ministry of Social Welfare and Myanmar Fisheries Federation.
“The Indian embassy informed us about them who have served the prison terms there to call them back. Immigration Department’s officials went there to check whether they are Myanmar nationals or not. When they confirmed, we arranged their return back home,” said Aung Kyaw Win, deputy director from Ministry of Social Welfare and Resettlement.
Reports say there are still more than 800 Myanmar seamen still in India’s prisons for illegal fishing. Official figures show more than 3000 seamen had returned from India after serving prison terms from 2000 to 2011.