8 Myanmar fishermen killed in fight in Medan

Medan (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Eight people died in a fight between detainees and illegal immigrants from Myanmar in an immigration detention center in Medan, South Sumatra, early Friday.

The fight reportedly broke out after one of the Myanmarese was sexually harassed.

The bodies of the victims, Aung Thu Win, Aung Than, Min-Min, Win Tun, Nawe, Aye, Myo and Sam iwin, have been taken to Pirngadi Hospital for autopsies. They were fishermen from Myanmar.

"That was the third time they had harassed one of our female friends," said Muhammad Alam, one of the immigrants. According to Alam, a Muslim woman was harassed when she was on her way to the bathroom at around 1 a.m. It enraged the other immigrants and triggered a fight that lasted for three hours. Only three detainees escaped the rage of hundreds of immigrants.

Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Denny Indrayana apologized on behalf of Indonesia regarding the incident. Detention center staff tried to stop the fight but failed.

Denny acknowledged that Belawan Immigration Detention Center was currently understaffed and overcrowded. "Currently, there are 480 people in Belawan Rudenim, whereas the actual capacity is only for 50 people. Meanwhile, only five people work at the detention center," said Denny.

Of the 480 people in detention, Alam said 11 were detainees. "They [the detainees] are fishermen who were arrested for fishing in Indonesian waters. While we are refugees seeking asylum," Alam told The Jakarta Post.

Contacted separately, Belawan Police detective chief Adj. Comr. Yudi Prianto said the police had questioned 21 people. "According to witnesses, the fight was over a woman, but we are still investigating it," said Yudi.

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