CHIN WORKERS ARRESTED IN MALAYSIAN IMMIGRATION RAID
Kuala Lumpur: On 5 August 2006, some 30-40 Chins along with many other undocumented workers were arrested by the Malaysian immigration authorities during a workplace raid on a construction site of “The Pavilion Residences” in downtown Kuala Lumpur.
According to a Chin worker at the site, the raid began around 3 o’clock. By 5 o’clock ten lorries carried hundreds of undocumented workers away from the site, including several UNHCR recognized Chin refugees. As of Sunday morning, none of those arrested had been released.
This is the third large-scale raid that has affected the Chin community in the past two weeks. On 23 July 2006, 76 Chin were arrested from the Sampaing area of KL and taken to Lenggeng detention facility. On 30 July 2006, around 2 am, 84 Chins were arrested from Putra Jaya and detained at Seminyah. 32 of those arrested from Putra Jaya are registered with the UNHCR and are awaiting refugee status determination interviews. 8 of those arrested have already received UNHCR refugee recognition. All of those arrested in the raids remain detained by the Malaysian authorities. It is believed that these raids are part of a larger campaign to crackdown on undocumented migrants living in Malaysia.
Most of the Chin people have been forced to flee their homes in Burma to escape severe ethnic and religious persecution and torture committed by the military regime. The people of Burma have been living under brutal military control since 1962. As a primarily Christian community in a predominantly Buddhist country, the Chin people are particularly targeted by the military rulers because of their minority status.
There are currently over 16,000 Chins living in Malaysia. Most are asylum seekers and refugees who have come to Malaysia in the hopes of finding a safe haven from persecution. The Chin people in Malaysia, however, live a precarious existence. The Malaysian government refuses to recognize the Chin population. Chin asylum seekers and refugees alike are treated as illegal immigrants. Without legal recognition by the Malaysia, the Chins living there are at constant risk of harassment by the authorities, arrest, detention, and deportation. In addition, they are unable to work, receive an education, access healthcare services, or find acceptable living accommodations.
By Amy Alexander