Imprisoned foreign fishermen lacking food

Dec 4, 2009 (DVB), Nearly 130 men on board foreign fishing boats who were captured and detained in Rangoon's Insein prison last month are lacking food and basic amenities, sources close to prison inmates said.

The ten boats, holding 128 fishermen from Indonesia, Taiwan and Philippines, had allegedly strayed into Burmese waters on 18 November, where the men were captured by the Burmese navy. Four of the boats were of Taiwanese origin.

According to the China Times, the four boats had left the Thai island of Phuket on the morning of 18 November. They reported being chased by the Burmese naval vessels, before radio contact was lost.

They have now been transferred to Insein prison’s Ward 1, according to the families of prisoners in the ward.

One family member told DVB that some of the sailors were in poor health, and had been sent to the prison hospital shortly after their arrival. They have since however been met by respective embassy officials.

"They arrived with no extra clothing to put on and no blanket," said one family member. "They had been suffering from extreme shifts in weather between daytime and nighttime. They didn't get enough to eat either so they were asking for food from other inmates."

Last month, Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA) quoted foreign ministry spokesperson, James Chang, who said that up to 17 fishing boats from various countries are currently detained by the Burmese junta for intruding on Burmese waters.

Under maritime law, a nation has the right to outline an exclusive economic zone stretching up to 200 nautical miles from its shores and claim the right to exploit the resources within that area.

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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