Outcry over Myanmar-Msia detainee swap
Sending detainees back tois akin to sending them to their possible deaths, says Human rights groups.
: Human rights advocates and the Myanmar community are reeling from the government’s proposal of a detainee swap between and Myanmar.
Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein met with Myanmar deputy foreign minister U Maung Myint in Parliament yesterday after which the proposal was announced.
The move is to reduce the number of Myanmar detainees currently in detention centres here.
The news has sent shockwaves through the Myanmar community here especially among those whose friends and family are among the 1,000 Myanmar detainees.
The Shan Refugees Organisation (SRO) has called it “terrible news” and is frantically trying to gather as much details as possible on the issue.
“It’s not supposed to be this way,” said an SRO spokesperson who asked to remain anonymous. “The possibility of persecution is awaiting those who are sent back.”
While Hishammudin said details will be discussed when the newly formed working committee between both governments meet next week, the SRO said it would be perilous to wait that long.
“We cannot afford to wait until a concrete decision is made,” said the spokesperson. “We will be meeting NGOs including Suaram, Tenaganita and the Bar Council to seek advice over the matter.”
Suaram backed up SRO’s point that sending the detainees back to their homeland was to return them to the danger from which they had fled in the first place.
“By sending them back Malaysia is giving recognition to the cruellest, most undemocratic and tyrannical regime in the region,” Suaram coordinator, Andika Abdul Wahab, told FMT.
“It’s a breach of the international customary law of non-refoulement which prohibits the return of people to places where they may face persecution or threats to their life or freedoms.”
‘End barbaric treatment of detainess’
Andika warned that following through on this proposal would bring great shame to Malaysia as a founder of ASEAN and a member of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR).
With such a standing, he said, Malaysia should instead be leading Myanmar in showing respect for human rights rather than endangering human lives.
Andika also dismissed Myanmar’s recent release of 120 out of 6,000 prisoners as non-reflective of human rights, freedom and peace being restored there.
“Myanmar’s on-going civil wars have forced its people to seek international protection outside the country,” he said. “As such a majority of Myanmar detainees could be refugees.”
“We urge the Malaysian government to drop the proposal and allow UNHCR immediate access to detention centres in order process asylum claims and release the genuine refugees.”
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) also had stern words for the proposal. Its deputy director for , Phil Robertson, pointed out that despite the various indications of political progress in Myanmar, its government continues to abuse ethnic minorities and political dissidents.
“Before jumping forward with yet another poorly thought out swap scheme Hishammudin should publicly commit that all Myanmar detainees will be given the right to make a refugee claim if they fear being prosecuted in their country,” he said. “And the UNHCR must be given unfettered access to adjudicate those claims.”
Robertson added that if the Myanmar government really wanted to protect its nationals, then it should demand that Malaysia immediately cease caning male migrants held for violating immigration laws.
“Caning is a form of torture and the Myanmar government should call for an end to this barbaric treatment of its citizens,” he stated - Free Malaysia Today, 18/10/2011,Outcry over Myanmar-Msia detainee swap
Tuesday October 18, 2011
Myanmar and Malaysia to swap detainees
AT THE DEWAN RAKYAT
Reports by MARTIN CARVALHO, YUEN MEIKENG, RAHIMY RAHIM and CALVIN YEO
October 17, 2011 17:10 PM
Malaysia, Myanmar Eye Swapping Immigration Detainees
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 (Bernama) -- Malaysia and Myanmar are mulling over the possibility of implementing an exchange programme for immigration detainees, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
He said there were currently around 1,000 Myanmar nationals at detention centres in this country. However, the number of Malaysian immigration detainees in Myanmar was not made available.
"It'll help reduce the numbers in our detention camps and show a good relationship between Malaysia and Myanmar in relation to immigration and movement of workers in the region," he told reporters after receiving Myanmar's Deputy Foreign Minister U Maung Myint (HE) here, today.
About 257,000 Myanmar nationals had registered under the "6P" programme, of which 144,098 were illegals immigrants. The programme is a massive legalisation and amnesty exercise for illegal immigrants conducted by Malaysian authorities.
"Since not all of them (Myanmar illegal immigants) will be employed, cooperation between both countries is important to ensure that the repatriation process runs smoothly," Hishammuddin said.
Hishammuddin said Malaysia and Myanmar would establish a joint working committee to address immigration as well as crime-related issues involving the two countries. It is expected to hold its first meeting next week.
Elaborating, the minister said Kuala Lumpur would cooperate closely with Myanmar to tackle cross-border crimes involving drugs, weapons and human trafficking.
"The issue of fraudulent travel documents is also in our focus, with 46 cases involving Myanmar nationals detected last year as well as 13 cases up till August this year," Hishammuddin said. -- BERNAMA, 17/10/2011, Malaysia, Myanmar Eye Swapping Immigration Detainees