Development Displaced 40 Refugee Families in Malaysia
21 March 2011 – KUALA LUMPUR: Around 40 Chin refugee families were asked to vacate an ‘abandoned’ building to make way for the development of Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (KLIFD), a key project under the Malaysian Development Plan.
According to a statement from the developer, the first batch of occupants has vacated the premises following an amicable settlement with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Chin Refugee Committee (CRC).
A Chin refugee who lives in the neighborhood told Chinland Guardian that the last of the occupants are set to vacate the building today.
“We are in active talks with various stakeholders to complete the relocation of residents and businesses at the site of KLIFD. We are committed in ensuring that the relocation is carried out in a manner that is fair and equitable to all the parties involved,” said Shahriza Embi, a spoke person of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
KLIFD is a RM26 billion (8.5 bilion US$) project that will be jointly developed by 1MDB and an Abu Dhabi-based company in the Malaysian capital.
Shariza said the building once occupied by Chin refugees comprising two blocks of three and four-storied buildings, were supposed to have been vacated for development within the last 90 days.
“The owners and occupants already received compensation but when the project stalled and the buildings were not demolished, many occupants stayed on. We thank UNHCR and CRC for their kind assistance and guidance in ensuring a smooth transition for the Burma refugees. We believe that there will always be an equitable solution for the occupants of KLIFD,” she said.
CRC coordinator Kennedy Lal Ram Lian said he recognized 1MDB’s sincere effort in looking for the best solution for the parties involved.
“The Chin community is satisfied with the move and happy that they are now relocated from an unsafe, abandoned location,’’ he said.
According to the statement, the refuges involved were not expecting to receive any further compensation.
Family Homeless in India
Meanwhile, in the Indian capital of New Delhi, a Chin refugee family has been living in an open roof verandah for the last 10 days after their landlord had locked them out of their rented room due to failure to pay rent for the last three months.
The head of the family Lai Ram Thang said, “We owe the landlord a total of 6,000 Indian Rupees for rent for three months. When he realized that we were not in a position to afford the rent, he decided to evict us. I feel very sorry as I am not able to provide even a room for my family to live.”
Lai Ram Thang and his family, which includes three young children, from khua Ngang village of Matupi Township fled to India in January 2009 to evade forcible recruitment for a three-month military training conducted by Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion No. 104 stationed in Matupi town in southern part of Chin State.
Plato Van Rung Mang of Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) said eviction by local Indian landlords is common occurrence for refugee families in Delhi who face a daily struggle to make ends meet working in factories and other low-paying jobs. He said that in the last year alone at least 15 Chin families were evicted from their rented rooms.
About 10,000 Chin refugees are currently living in the Indian capital.
With reporting by Thomas Chong