Allow Sri Lankan asylum seekers access to UNHCR now!

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Suaram demands that the Immigration Department immediately allow 75 Sri Lankan asylum seekers access to the UNHCR and allow it to process their asylum claims.

Exactly a month ago, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency detained 75 Sri Lankan asylum seekers aboard a fishing trawler that was stranded at Tanjung Piandang. To date, the asylum seekers are still detained at the KLIA Immigration Detention Centre.

Suaram has been informed that the 75 Sri Lankans have gone on hunger strike today to demand access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and to be resettled to a third country. The right to seek asylum is enshrined under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Malaysian Government must respect the rights of these asylum seekers.

Out of the 75 asylum seekers, there are six women and eight children. We demand that the Government immediately end the detention of child and woman refugees and to respect its obligation to protect child and woman refugees under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw).

Suaram demands that the Immigration Department immediately provide the asylum seekers access to the UNHCR and to allow the UNHCR to process their asylum claims. Upon verification of their asylum claims, the Government must immediately release the asylum seekers in to UNHCR’s official care. This must be extended to not only this group of Sri Lankan refugees but all asylum seekers and refugees arrested by law enforcement authorities.

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Temme Lee
Coordinator
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)

25 May 2010

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