Monday, May 25, 2009

What is the media interested in these days? Issues of farmers, migrants, detainees, etc.. are all not getting covered...

This morning (25/5/2009), there were 3 complaints made to SUHAKAM

11.00 am - Some farmers from Perak, who had been farmers for decades (even generations) were there to complain that their farming land have been taken by the government. Some said that their applications for land for farming also had gone unheeded all these years. A very important issue - when suddenly farmers lose their farms....(The MP for Sungai Siput was also present for this)

12.00 am - The handing over of the statement by 113 organizations/groups entitled 'DEATH OF 2 BURMESE INDICATIVE OF STATE OF DETENTION PLACES IN MALAYSIA - DENIAL OF HEALTHCARE IS A VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO LIFE". The issue was detention places in Malaysia. The issue was cleanliness and hygiene of detention places. The issue was healthcare. The issue was how could people be dying by Leptospirosis - caused by exposure to water contaminated by animal urine. The issue was how come 2 died - when early detection and early healthcare may have prevented 2 human being from dying...

12.45am - DAP Teratai assemblyperson Jenice Lee today slammed the police, saying the police violated her rights and harassed her during her recent detention... (no need to elaborate - for I am sure it will be covered by both alternative and mainstream media...)

All groups have informed the media - BUT, which do you think will get the media coverage?

Which will be covered by the mainstream media?

Which will be covered by the alternative media?

It is sad that many other rights issues and concerns of the normal ordinary persons are just being 'overlooked' ....

By-elections, political games, in-fighting in political parties, scandals, etc are getting the lime light...

FARMERS and their land problems - who cares?

DETENTION CENTRES - death of migrants - who cares? [Further, these are not person with the right to why bother?]
- some say it may be 'political suicide' if we are seen to be talking about migrant rights when Malaysians are also facing the impact of this economic crisis...

Really, we need to get our priorities rights - and our concern must be for all matters of human rights and justice...

All the more for alternative pro-people media like Malaysiakini to work harder and cover all these other struggles and issues concerning poor farmers, lurban settlers, factory workers, migrant workers, detainees...etc..

Joint Statement - 23/5/2009



We, the undersigned, are alarmed to hear that Sa La Hin, 26, and Thang Hoih Ping, 21, two Burmese migrants, have died in the Malaysia’s Juru Immigration Detention Centre from Leptospirosis. This is disease that is usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals, such as rodents, cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and wild animals. The fact, that 2 persons are dead and others have been infected by this disease, again highlights the state of hygiene, cleanliness and healthcare at Malaysian Detention Centres.

We recall that it was reported in the media in December 2008, that "About 1,300 illegal foreigners have died during detention in the past six years, Malaysia Nanban quoted Malaysian Human Rights (Suhakam) commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam as saying. He said many of them died in immigration detention centres, prisons and police lockups because they were denied medical treatment at the right time.” [Star, 18/12/2008, ‘1,300 foreign detainees died due to neglect’]. Now, Sa La Hin and Thang Hoih Ping may just be the latest additions to that list of detainees that died due to similar reasons.

We also recall the words of SUHAKAM in their response to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) dated 13/1/2009, that correctly stated that ‘…SUHAKAM views the denial of medical attention to the point of endangering one’s life as a serious violation of that person’s right to life….’

These deaths may have been avoided if medical attention was provided promptly, and we call for an independent public inquiry to determine whether there was such negligence on the part of the Ikatan Relawan Rakyat or better known as RELA (a People's Volunteer Corps), and the Immigration officers, who are currently responsible for Immigration Detention Centres in Malaysia.

We do appreciate the fact that the Director General of Immigration has now decided that ‘cleanliness and hygiene at immigration depots nationwide are to be stepped-up to ensure safety of staff and inmates there against contracting infectious diseases’ (Bernama, 19/5/2009, Cleanliness, Hygiene at Immigration Depot to Be Stepped Up).

We hope that this is not merely a knee-jerk response, which is temporary in nature, but a new and permanent commitment by Malaysia to improve standards and conditions of Detention Centres and other places of detention.

The current once a week visit by a medical officer to the Detention Centres is certainly inadequate. There should be, at the very least, a permanent clinic/dispensary manned by a medical assistant, with a doctor visiting detainees for several hours at least once every two days or more frequently.

New users of the Detention facility should also be determined free from easily transmittable diseases like Tuberculosis and the A(H1N1) flu before being introduced to the general population of detention places.

There should also be regular visits by the Health Officer, who shall monitor the conditions, including of the living and sleeping environment, of the Detention Centre to ensure that it meets the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness.

The foods, and all aspects of food preparation, also need to be monitored by the Health Department especially since there is a possibility that the fault in the recent deaths could be the current caterer of food and drink.

With regard to those who have died, we are of the opinion that their family and/or dependents should be given adequate compensation by the persons responsible, the detaining authority and the Malaysian government.

Officers and persons responsible for the acts or omissions that resulted in death and suffering should be charged and prosecuted for these crimes. They should not be permitted to hide behind safeguards provided to public servants and/or the RELA volunteers, which unfortunately only promotes culture of impunity with no sense of responsibility and respect for human life.

We, the undersigned, call on the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) to immediately commence a public inquiry into these deaths and detention places generally, and come up with concrete recommendations which could be implemented that will improve state of cleanliness, hygiene and healthcare of all detention places in Malaysia.

We are also call upon the Ministry of Health and the government of Malaysia to take necessary steps to ensure that proper steps be taken to ensure that such disregard for life does not happen again.

We reiterate the call for the abolition of RELA, and restate our position that law enforcement, and management of detention places should be done by professionally trained full-time public servants, not volunteers.

Charles Hector
Pranom Somwong

For and on behalf of the 113 organizations/groups listed below:-

Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE), Inc, Philippines
Action Network for Migrants (ANM), Thailand
All Women's Action Society (AWAM), Malaysia
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), Hong Kong
Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Link (APWSL), Korea
Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body - Hong Kong (AMCB-HK)
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)-AAPP
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Bar Council Human Rights Committee, Malaysia
Bar Council's Legal Aid Centre, Malaysia
Building and Wood Workers International, Asia Pacific Regional Office
Burma Campaign Australia
Burma Campaign, Malaysia
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Centre Delhi (BCD)
Burma's Nationalities Association (BNA)- Norway
Burma Partnership
Cambodian Women's Crisis Center
Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB)
CDS (Community Development Services), Sri Lanka
Center for Migrant Advocacy, Philippines
Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Malaysia
Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS), Malaysia
Chin Human Rights Organization
Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLGCSC)
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (USA)
Commission For Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) - The Netherlands
Committee for Asian Women (CAW)
Coordination of Action Research on AIDS & Mobility (CARAM -Asia)
Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), Burma
Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), Philippines
Empower Foundation, Thailand
Ethnic Nationalities Council
FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights
Filipino Migrant Workers' Union - Hong Kong (FMWU)
Forum for Democracy in Burma
Foundation for Education and Development (Formerly, Grassroots HRE (Burma)
Free Burma Coalition - Philippines (FBC-Phils)
Free Burma Campaign, South Africa
Friends of Burma, Malaysia
Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)
HAKAM - National Human Rights Society, Malaysia
Health Equity Initiatives, Malaysia
H.O.M.E. (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics), Singapore
Hope Workers’ Center, Taiwan
HRWG - Indonesia's NGO Coalition for International Advocacy
Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and New Immigrants Service Center, Taiwan
IMPARSIAL, the Indonesia Human Rights Monitor, Jakarta – Indonesia
INFID (International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
Kachin Women's Association Thailand
KAFIN Migrant Center, Japan
KAFIN - Saitama, Japan
Kayan National Development Foundation (KNDF)
Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human rights Organisation (KKKHRO), Cambodia
Labornet Korea
Labour Resource Centre, Malaysia
Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia
LHRLA (Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid), Pakistan
MADPET (Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture)
Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)
Mekong Migration Network (MMN)
Migrant CARE, Perhimpunan Indonesia untuk Buruh Migran Berdaulat
Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)
MIGRANTE Middle East
MIGRANTE International
Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions, Inc. (MMCEAI)
Myanmar Ethnic Rohingyas Human Rights Organization Malaysia (MERHROM)
National Democratic Party for Human Rights(NDPHR)(exile),SEA Regional Office
National League for Democracy [NLD (LA)], Malaysia
National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI), Malaysia
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, U.S.
Network for Democracy and Development, Thailand
Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
New Zealand Burma Support Group
NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
OKUP (Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program), Bangladesh
Osan Migrant Workers Center in South Korea
Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF)
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)
Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)
Peoples Service Organization (PSO), Malaysia
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangot (EMPOWER)
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS), Malaysia
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor
Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe - The Netherlands
Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia
Raks Thai Foundation, Thailand
Rohingya Youth Development Forum (RYDF), Malaysia
Shan Refugee Organization Malaysia (SRO)
Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN)
Shwe Gas Movement
St. John's Cathedral HIV Education Centre, Hong Kong
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Tenaganita, Malaysia
The Foundation for the Health and Knowledge of Ethnic Labour (MAP)
The Justice, Peace & Solidarity in Mission Office, The Good Shepherd Sisters
The Micah Mandate
Transient Workers Count Too, Singapore
United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
U.S. Campaign for Burma
WARBE Development Foundation - Bangladesh
Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), Malaysia
Women's League of Burma
Workers Hub for Change (WH4C)

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