Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Myanmar detainees riot, set fire at Malaysian camp

Myanmar detainees riot, set fire at Malaysian camp

April 21, 2008

Detainees from Myanmar rioted at a Malaysian holding camp on Monday,
torching a building, after hearing they had been denied asylum in a third
country, the authorities said.

Some 72 Myanmarese, who were being held at a camp just outside the capital
Kuala Lumpur, forced their way into an administrative block and set it
ablaze, the Immigration Department's head of enforcement, Ishak Mohammad,

"They were disappointed on hearing the UNHCR (the U.N. Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees) couldn't get a placement for them in a third
country," he told Reuters. Malaysia considers them to be illegal

Police said the rioters, who were unarmed, would be charged with arson. No
one was injured.

"They set fire at the ground floor causing damage to office furniture and
computers," the local Star newspaper quoted Osman Abdullah, the police
chief in the southwestern Negeri Sembilan state, as saying in its online
edition. The camp is located at Lenggeng in the state.

The camp, housing some 800 illegal immigrants including Bangladeshis and
Indonesians, would be closed temporarily, the immigration department said.

Malaysia is home to around 3 million foreign workers, 1 million of whom
are working illegally, Home Minister Syed Albar said at the weekend.

The country currently has about 39,000 refugees registered with the UNHCR,
the body said.

Of the total, about 13,000 are members of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim
minority and another 12,000 are members of other Myanmar minority ethnic

The Rohingyas came in the 1990s from Myanmar, but the government there
disputes their origin and refuses to let them return.

(Reporting by Jalil Hamid, Editing by Alex Richardson)

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