Malaysia Arrests More Refugee Babies
By Salai Za Uk Ling – 7 March 2007 – Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian immigration today placed in custody a new-born refugee baby and mother in what is a third of such arrest in two weeks.
The detention came amidst mounting concerns over security for refugees and asylum seekers in the country following public remarks by Malaysian Home Minister Radzi Sheik Ahmad saying that his government doesn’t recognize the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and accused the international agency of interfering in arrests by law enforcement of “illegal immigrants.”
Yesterday, another new born child and her parents were arrested only a few hours after they were discharged from a hospital in Kuala Lumpur where hospital staff had advised them to register the child with the immigration office. According to a brother of the detained father, the child was born only a night before when they were detained. “The baby was born at midnight in Chowkit Hospital just the night before they were placed in custody,” he told Chinland Guardian.
Last week, another new born refugee baby was arrested with her parents when they attempted to register the birth with the immigration office in Damansara in Kuala Lumpur. The mother who delivered the child by operation was reportedly bleeding at the time of detention. The father was also just discharged from hospital earlier in the day where he was treated for temporary paralysis of the limbs.
In all incidents, at least one of the parents have been recognized by UNHCR or registered with the office as Persons of Concerns (PoC).
According to Chin Refugees Committee, an organization that won a human rights awards in Malaysia last year, the number of arrests of refugees and asylum seekers have significantly increased in the last few months in Malaysia. The CRC records reveal more than 300 arrests only since the beginning of 2007.
Rights group in Malaysia have regularly protested against arrest of children and vulnerable women and accused the government of breaching its obligations under the UN treaties protecting asylum seeking children and women.