Why were Burmese migrants leaving Malaysia? Was it because they had been the targets of violence in several incidents? Or was it due to a new crackdown by police? Charles Hector takes a look.
Aliran is dismayed that the most fundamental requirements of refugee protection, especially the basic human rights of all refugees, is not covered by the Australia-Malaysia asylum seekers-for-refugees swap deal signed on 25 July 2011 – notwithstanding that Malaysia is not a state party to the 1951 Refugees Convention.
Asylum seekers in Malaysia have never had any guarantee of safety in this country as Malaysian immigration laws do not recognise those granted official UNHCR refugee status. This month, as in years past, is the month of the refugee. World Refugee Day falls on 20 June, a day significant to all refugees and asylum seekers hoping to be freed from fear and danger to life and liberty.
Like Burma’s other neighbors, India hosts a large and growing refugee population, the majority of whom are Chin ethnic minorities. India generally tolerates the presence of Burmese refugees, but does not afford them any legal protection, leaving them vulnerable to harassment, discrimination, and deportation.
We, the undersigned organisations, wish to express our support for the development of a regional solution to the plight of the Rohingya that is founded upon a respect for their rights and draws upon the support of the international community. However, we are concerned that while regional solutions have been discussed, including at the recent Asean summit, some of the proposals suggested to date and some of the recent actions towards the Rohingya are in violation of their rights.
Among Burma’s ethnic minorities, the Rohingya, a stateless population, stand out for their particularly harsh treatment by Burmese authorities and their invisibility as a persecuted minority. Despite decades of severe repression, there has been minimal international response to the needs of this extremely vulnerable population compared to other Burmese refugees, observe Sean Garcia and Camilla Olson of Refugees International.
Refugees are appealing to their present host countries for temporary documents to allow them to stay and work legally while the UNHCR processes their resettlement to third countries. If they are allowed to work, refugees could signficantly contribute to the economic development of their host countries says Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani. Rohingya refugees are also asking the UNHCR to resettle them to third countries just as it does for other refugees.
It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to be a refugee. To see your village torn apart by war. To escape under horrific conditions to an unfamiliar land where you don’t speak the language. To be alone, surrounded by strangers, not knowing who you can trust, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. Yet for thousands of refugees in Malaysia and millions more worldwide, this is the story of their lives.