Possible Deportation and Crackdown Worries Chin Asylum Seekers
21 October 2011: ‘Unregistered’ Chin refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia said they are in fear of possible deportation to their country under the new Malaysia-Burma deal.
And concerns have grown in light of Malaysia’s plan to launch a major crackdown on ‘undocumented’ as early as within the next two months.
Some believe that the crackdown will start as early as the first week of November with RELA, a volunteer corps, police and soldiers being in charge of the raid.
There are more than ten thousand Chin refugees, who have not been registered with the UNHCR, according to ACR (Alliance of Chin Refugees) and CRC (Chin Refugee Committee).
“Chin asylum seekers, who are still in the process of the UN registration or are not registered yet, are so worried about the impending crackdown. There is not much we can do to help them,” a ‘registered’ Chin refugee told Chinland Guardian.
Malaysia has recently introduced a ‘6P programme’ under which undocumented foreign workers and migrants, including asylum seekers and refugees are required to register with the government in an effort to ‘regularize’ their status.
The move has created much confusion and concerns among the refugees, as many of those trying to register under the program were given a slip that says “Return to your home country.”
The ‘6P’ registration is believed to resume early next month. And about 2.3 million people, of which half are undocumented, have registered with more than 60,000 children on the list, according to reliable sources.
There is much confusion among the refugees over the question of what will happen to those who have not registered and what will follow, as the re-registration under the 6P program and the crackdown may happen at the same time.
Meanwhile, rights groups have condemned the newly agreed Malaysia-Burma deal that will allow deportation of Burmese nationals detained in Malaysia back to their country, saying the move will put their lives in serious danger. Under the deal, Malaysia and Burma are to exchange prisoners detained in each of the two countries. But it is unclear how many Malaysians are being detained in Burma.
In response, Mayalsia has tried to reassure that asylum seekers and refugees will not be included in the swap deal. But rights groups point out that the lack of proper mechanism to screen potential asylum seekers raises serious concerns that those with otherwise genuine refugee claims may inevitably be included.
About 1,000 Burmese nationals are currently detained in Malaysia, according to Malaysia’s Home Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein.
Since early June, Burma’s new government has launched fresh military offensives in the ethnic areas, resulting in the killing of civilians and the displacement of thousands of civilians IDPs (internally displaced persons) and refugees, especially in Kachin State.
In its statement on Tuesday, SUARAM said: “Due to such situations happening in Burma, there is a large possibility that a majority of Burma nationals detained in detention centres are genuine refugees.”
“By returning these detainees (refugees) to country or places where they may face persecution or threats to their life, Malaysia is in breach of international customary law of non-refoulement which prohibits the return of people to places where they may face persecution or threats to their life or freedoms.”
As of last month, the UNHCR has registered over 94,000 refugees, of which more than 90 percent are from Burma. It is estimated that about 50,000 Chin refugees are stranded in Malaysia.
Burma still remains on the list of the world’s worst human rights abusers alongside Libya, North Korea and Sudan, according to a 2011 report by an independent watchdog organization, Freedom House.
Van Biak Thang