6P Confusion Embraces Refugee Communities in Malaysia
25 August 2011: Many Chin as well as other Burmese refugees have raised grave concerns in fear of deportation to Burma over the documents issued by the Malaysian Immigration following the 6P registration beginning on 23 August.
The documents issued after the taking of individual biometric information at the Putrajaya Immigration Office include some indications that translate ‘return to origin’ or ‘returning to your country of origin’, according to sources.
Some refugees who have had their fingerprints taken in Kuala Lumpur are alarmed after finding out they have been issued documents with different writings on them.
The UNHCR in Malaysia have been criticised for not being able to give clear messages regarding the 6P exercise and accused of ‘betraying’ the refugees to undertake the biometric processes without its details being properly explained.
A Burmese refugee, Kyaw Htoo Aung, was quoted as saying that the UNHCR tricked them [refugees] in a bid to clear corruption dealings with refugee processes.
Yante Ismail, External Relations Officer at the UNHCR in Kuala Lumpur, said: “UNHCR has received confirmation that the Government of Malaysia has no intentions of deporting UNHCR document holders who register under the 6P programme.”
“UNHCR has learnt that the document issued to refugees and asylum-seekers during the registration was the same as the document issued to migrants. This was a document that carried the words “Return to my home country” for the purpose of providing that option to migrants. But this does not apply to refugees and asylum-seekers,” posted Yante Ismail today.
David Nun Tho, Coordinator of Falam Refugee Organisation (FRO), admitted the ‘confusion and anxiety’ created among Chin refugee communities in Malaysia while stressing that they should go ahead with the biometric registration as the community-based organizations (CBOS) have a constant liaison with UNHCR.
Yante Ismail also acknowledged the ‘inadequate communication’ that has caused a bewildering atmosphere, adding: “When UNHCR learnt about this yesterday, we immediately raised this matter with the Government who will now rectify the document for all UNHCR-registered refugees and asylum-seekers.”
The new biometric system requires all foreign individuals including refugees and asylum seekers registered with UNHCR to undergo the taking of their bio-data and information when entering Malaysia.
It is estimated that there are over 86,000 refugees from Burma registered with UNHCR in Malaysia, of which more than 35,000 are of Chin ethnicity.
Van Biak Thang