Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) has urged Kuala Lumpur-based UNHCR to take immediate action on behalf of detained Chin refugees and asylum seekers against the ongoing mistreatment and abuses inflicted upon migrants from Burma by the Malaysian authorities.
The Malaysian authorities have been criticised for its continuation of conducting raids and ‘bad treatment’ on refugees in Malaysia despite a recent report Trafficking and Extortion of Burmese Migrants in Malaysia and Southern Thailand by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, documenting and disclosing the ‘ill-treatment and rough handling’ against the migrants.
CHRO’s report last Friday said: “The report findings include the involvement of Malaysian officials in the arrest, detention, and extortion of Burmese migrants and refugees; mistreatment of detainees in detention facilities, including whippings and torture; and the transfer of Burmese migrants and refugees to traffickers for payment. Burmese migrants and refugees in the hands of traffickers are subject to further extortion and mistreatment and are at risk of being sold into the fishing or sex industry.”
The report is based on a one-year investigation by the Senate Committee and includes information provided by NGOs, including CHRO, as well as first-hand testimony from trafficking victims.
Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Executive Director of CHRO, said: “Chin refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia have long been subject to abuse and exploitation by Malaysian officials and their operatives. We appreciate this initiative by the U.S. government and hope it will put pressure on the Malaysian government to act responsibly towards migrants and refugees living within its borders.”
The Malaysian authorities rounded up and detained some 300 migrants, including small children, during raids in the Imbi neighborhood of Kuala Lumpur late Wednesday night. Over 100 Chin refugees and asylum seekers are among those arrested, including 14 children and two pregnant women. The authorities have been conducting similar raids throughout the city with increasing frequency during this past month.
The 106 Chin refugees and asylum seekers caught up in the raids earlier this week are currently being held in Bukit Jali police station. Kennedy Lal Ram Lian, coordinator of the Chin Refugee Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia said: “No one has been released, not even UNHCR card holders.” More than 10 Chin detainees are UNHCR-recognized refugees awaiting resettlement to a third country. If they are deported to the border, they are at risk of being sold to traffickers.
The Chin community represents one of the largest refugee communities from Burma living in Malaysia. For more than ten years, the Chin people have fled to Malaysia to escape persecution, torture, and severe oppression in Burma. In Malaysia they are they are the constant target of harassment, arrest, detention, and deportation by the Malaysian authorities. They are unable to work, receive an education, access healthcare services, or find acceptable living accommodations.
Van Biak Thang
26 April, 2009