RELA Raids Refugee Neighborhood, Arrests Dozens
01 December 2010: Over 100 ‘illegal’ migrants, including about 30 Chins were arrested in one of the biggest raids yet on a refugee neighborhood by Malaysia’s RELA since the beginning of the year.
At around 1:00 a.m. last night, an army of RELA personnel rounded up the Jalan Imbi neighborhood of Kuala Lumpur, breaking locked doors and forced-entering people’s houses.
“We were having a Sweet December gathering when we heard that RELA was rounding up the entire neighborhood,” said a 17 year-old UNHCR-recognized Chin refugee girl who said she was initially taken away before being released about an hour later.
All but one in her house was later released after the RELA found them to have possessed UNHCR cards.
“We immediately turned off the lights and stayed quietly in the rooms. But they broke the backdoor open and forced their way inside the house anyway,” she explained. She said that there were over 20 people gathering in the house for a mid-night Sweet December celebration when the RELA stormed in.
According to a representative of the Chin Refugee Committee (CRC), which runs a center in the same neighborhood, the raid last night was the biggest of its kinds since the beginning of 2010. “We had some smaller-scale raids every now and then, but they were mostly conducted in late afternoon or early evenings,” he said, adding that last night raid was “very unusual” for this year.
Many of the arrested refugees are being detained at an immigration processing center at Daman Sarah in Kuala Lumpur, where they remain as of late this afternoon.
Among the detainee are some UNHCR-recognized refugees who did not carry their UNHCR cards at the time of their arrest, as well as, those refugees who carried only certified copies of UNHCR card after they lost their original documents.
Other nationals rounded up in the raid included migrant workers from Indonesia and Bangladesh.