The number of Chin refugees being arrested in Malaysia has increased dramatically in recent months, raising fears among the Chin communities and leaders worldwide that their lives could be highly jeopardised if they are sent into the brokers’ hands at the Thai-Malaysian border or sent back to Burma.
More than 60 Chin refugees, sources revealed, were arrested in their rented houses in late-night raids last week by the government-formed corps called Volunteers of Malaysian People aka RELA which is accused of ‘abusing the laws and conniving in taking measures’ against immigrants.
Mothers with newly born babies and children under 14 were those among arrested even though Malaysia is a signatory to the Convention on Child Rights Convention ( CRC ) and on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), meaning Malaysia has an obligation to protect women and children. Instead, Malaysian authorities put even a newly born baby into jail, according to Chin Human Rights Organisation’s reports.
“The situation of Chin refugees in Malaysia is like a bad dream. Anything could happen at any time of period at any place. As far as we can, we try to stay within reach voluntarily so that we can act in time to help those in serious trouble. We are not dealing only with refugee issues. There are several other issues including visiting patients in critical condition and funeral services,” a member of CRC (Chin Refugee Committee) told Chinland Guardian.
A Chin refugee, Thang Khan Thawng, 62, died of depression in Kuala Lampur last week after learning his application had been rejected, according to Khonumtung News.
“They [Chin refugees] are hiding without food in the jungle in fear of being arrested. The situation gets really worse as the rainy season has come in. Some get really ill but dare not come to the camp as RELA can lie in wait for them nearby,” said a Falam Chin.
“Some people get seriously hurt while running through thorny bushes. Being aware that RELA can secretly follow them and know where the refugees are hiding in the jungle, Doctors who want to help, just try to get medicines to the refugees in any possible means,” added he.
It is estimated that at least 30,000 Chin refugees, both unregistered and registered with UNHCR, live in Malaysia and about 60,000 Chin refugees in India. In hope of finding safety and refuge, tens of thousands of the Chin people have fled their native place to escape the military junta’s brutal atrocities including torture, persecution and the threat of death.
Van Biak Thang
29 June, 2008