Hundreds of Refugees Arrested In Recent Raids In Malaysia
27 April 2010: Malaysian authorities have recently launched a series of crackdowns on immigrants, arresting hundreds of Chin refugees stranded in Malaysia, including children and pregnant women.
An estimated 500 Chin refugees have remained in detention camps, with ‘unknown’ numbers in locked up jail, following recent measures of cracking down on illegal immigrants by RELA Corps, Malaysian Police and Immigration.
“Chin refugees are being arrested on a daily basis. It is difficult to know the exact numbers. Those holding UNHCR registration card are normally released in about a month’s time, and the fates of those with no UNHCR card can not be predicted if they can not be rescued by paying money to the authorities before further action is taken,” said a volunteer member of Chin Refugee Committee (CRC).
The Malaysian authorities have been severely criticised for human rights abuses, including excessive use of force, extortion of documented immigrants during raids, and destroying the documentation of legal immigrants in order to secure more arrests.
Naing Shin, Secretary Generalof Dai Community in Malaysia said: “Mass arrests take place day by day, with more than 200 Chin refugees arrested monthly. About 15 Dai-Chins including two pregnant women have been detained. Some are arrested in an early morning raid during their sleep while others at work and on the streets going to work.”
Dependent on meagre incomes earned from taking any available odd jobs, Chin refugees in Malaysia live in fears as they could lose their jobs, properties and salaries once they are arrested and detained.
According to Global Detention Project, Rights groups have criticised the Malaysian authorities for detaining scores of asylum seeker children, pregnant women and other vulnerable individuals, mainly from Burma/Myanmar, at various detention camps and prisons around the country, adding: “They have come to this country for no other reason than to seek a safe haven from persecution and serious human rights violations in their home country.”
Malaysia has not adopted key international instruments that protect the rights of migrants. The country is not party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. However, refugees who have been recognised by UNHCR and obtained UNHCR documents may nonetheless enjoy de facto protection at the national level, according to rights groups.
It is estimated there are more than 30,000 Chin refugees stranded in Malaysia after fleeing the military-controlled country, Burma, where they have been for decades facing various forms of human rights abuses, repression, persecutions and brutalities inflicted by the ruling regime.
Van Biak Thang