Sunday, June 06, 2010

'Riot' at Ajil Detention Centre for Undocumented Migrants - Independent Inquiry/Investigation Needed

Why it the cause of this 'trouble' at yet another of Malaysia's Detention Centre for undocumented migrants? (Just last July, we remember that was some 'trouble' at another detention centre - the Semenyih Detention Centre)

Were the detainees protesting inadequate healthcare, poor food & living conditions,....? 
Were they protesting torture by camp authorities?

The newspaper report labels it a 'riot' - but this is most likely based on information obtained from the camp authorities. What do the detained migrants say? [Israel said that they used violence and killed persons in that humanitarian flotilla because they were really 'terrorists' with arms who attacked the Israeli soldiers, and that the soldiers opened fire in defence. Later, we hear from the victims a totally different story.)

Likewise, we need to have an independent get to the truth. Media should also be trying to get information from the undocumented migrants (and maybe even some asylum seekers, refugees and documented persons who are being detained there). Maybe even, some Malaysians... [see earlier posts:-Pregnant Malaysian mum wrongfully detained in Migrant Detention Centre for 11+ months ,

Hopefully, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) has already visited this Detention Centre, and commenced their own investigation. Or is SUHAKAM waiting for a formal complaint? There must be no cover-up, and the real reason for the said 'riot'/protest must be disclosed to the public

KUALA BERANG: Some 200 illegal immigrants from Vietnam and Myanmar went on a riot at the Ajil detention camp late last night.

It is believed that the immigrants had tried to torch the main administration building at the camp at around 9.15pm, sparking a melee.

It is also learnt that several of the immigrants were also injured during the incident and had been warded at the Hulu Terengganu Hospital.

Smoke from the detention camp could be seen some distance away from the town.

Several teams of Federal Reserve Unit personnel in anti-riot gear were also rushed to the scene to quell the riot from their headquarters in Kuala Terengganu.

Three fire engines from the Hulu Terengganu and Kuala Terengganu Fire and Rescue Department also rushed to the scene and managed to bring the fire under control in 10 minutes.

Ambulances were also seen entering the premise and ferrying out the injured. The detainees were believed to have used newspaper and other combustible materials to set the camp on fire.

It is not known however if the authorities had used tear gas to quell the riots but at press time, the area was still being condorned off and the police were still manning roadblocks on the road leading towards the camp.

As at press time, no reason had been given for the riot and police officers were seen at the site still negotiating with the group inside.

Stall owners near the detention centre had also been advised by Immigration authorities to immediately clear the area for fear of the riot spilling over onto the streets.

In 2005, 131 Thai Muslims who were seeking temporary shelter from unrest in Southern Thailand were housed in Ajil camp.

While on July 1 last year, 700 Myanmar illegals had caused a ruckus at Semenyih camp.- Star, 6/6/2010, 200 illegal immigrants stage riot at Ajil detention camp
In the last 'riot' in July 2009, the riot started allegedly when the camp authorities started beating some of detainees... 

Eight Burmese detainees were wounded after a small riot broke out at the Semenyih Immigration camp near Kajang Township, in Malaysia on Wednesday.

Speaking clandestinely to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, one of the detainees involved in the riot at the camp said the trouble started at 8pm after camp authorities beat 30 detainees who were refusing to board a truck that was to take them to another camp.

The detainees began breaking up the walls of their rooms and throwing plates at security officers, demanding prison authorities release the 30 people who had been loaded onto the truck.

The police used tear gas to break up the riot.

“We are very angry after we heard they had beaten and forced fellow prisoners to get on a truck and be moved another camp. When they came for them they said it was only to meet officials from the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees],” he said.

The detainee was in hiding as he talked to The Irrawaddy by phone from the camp. Camp authorities ban the use of mobile phones.

“On Tuesday, two Burmese detainees were also seriously beaten when they went to the clinic to ask for medicine. One detainee was beaten around the eyes,” the detainee said.

“We don’t know if he will regain his vision because his eyes are filled with blood. At the moment he can’t see,” he said. “The other detainee suffered cigarette burns on his body and is in serious condition now.”

Yante Ismail, a spokesperson for the UNHCR based in Kuala Lumpur told The Irrawaddy, Thursday, that a group from UNHCR left for the camp that morning to investigate the riot.

She said that she was unable to provide any further details on what happened at the camp.
The Malaysian National News Agency announced on their Bernama website that no one was injured during the riot and that the situation was under control.

According to Burmese rights groups in Malaysia, there are about 700 Burmese detainees at the Semenyih Immigration camp. They are accusing camp authorities of keeping people who have already served sentences in detention.

Roi Mon, a member of the Mon Refugees Organization based in Malaysia, said that inmates do not have enough food and water, and the camp is crowded because the authorities have refused to release detainees.

Meanwhile, in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 released in June, the US State Department put Malaysia back on the Tier 3 blacklist for its record of abuse and exploitation of migrant workers. Malaysia joins 16 other countries including Burma, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe on the blacklist.

The report accused Malaysia authorities of deporting Burmese detainees to the Thai-Malaysia border and selling them to human traffickers, who then demanded ransoms for their release.

If payments were not made, the victims would be forced to work as slave labor on fishing boats in Thailand and Indonesia, and women could be forced to work as prostitutes in brothels.

Malaysian authorities have disputed the report’s conclusions.

According to the Kuala Lumpur-based Burma Workers’ Rights Protection Committee, about 500,000 Burmese migrants work in Malaysia, legally and illegally. - Irrawady, 2/7/2009, Burmese Injured in Malaysian Camp Riots
The relocation of Burmese refugees in Malaysia could lead to worse human rights abuses as they would be isolated from outside world, rights advocacy groups in Malaysia said. 

According to the rights groups, the Malaysia immigration authorities moved 598 Burmese refugees including women and children who were detained at Semenyih Immigration camp near Malaysia’s Kajang Township on Friday.

The move was likely due to the Malaysia authorities wanting to isolate the refugees from the outside world, while other sources said it was due to the riot between Burmese refugees and Malaysia camp authorities on July 1. 

The riot broke out after camp authorities beat 30 detainees who were refusing to board a truck that was to take them to another camp. Eight Burmese detainees were wounded in the riot.    

Aung Naing Thu, general secretary of the Malaysia-based rights advocacy group known as the Burma Youth of Nationalists Association said, “Now the Burmese refugees have been relocated to other places, they will be isolated, and the authorities will be able to do whatever the want, even torture them.”   

Forty-eight out of more then 600 Burmese refugees who were detained in Semenyih detention camp were released on Monday, but 598 of them remained. Many of the remaining refugees are undocumented, said rights groups.

The released detainees said there had been many human rights abuses while they were in the camp. Months-old children and women and pregnant women were the most vulnerable, as the meals distributed in the detention camp lack nutrition, they said.        

Thant Zin, a Burmese refugee who was released on Monday, said that only ten sick people are allowed to receive medical treatment per week.

“Many people who feel sick in the camp go without medical treatment. They are not allowed to see doctors,” said Thant Zin.    

The drinking water and the water used in the toilet come from the same source,” he added.

“If they find communication materials such as mobile phones, they brutally beat you,” said Thant Zin.

Immigration authorities regularly beat the detained Burmese refugees during inspections. Last week, two Burmese detainees were seriously beaten when they went to the clinic to ask for medicine.

One detainee was beaten around the eyes till they filled with blood and he became unable to see. The other detainee suffered from cigarette burns on his body and was said to be in serious condition.

A delegation from the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees in Malaysia is now investigating the riot, according to Yante Ismail, a spokesperson for the UNHCR, in Kuala Lumpur.  

There are 22 detention camps in Malaysia, some of which are located in isolated areas on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Some refugees have spent years in the detention camps. 

About 500,000 Burmese migrants work in Malaysia, legally and illegally, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based Burma Workers’ Rights Protection Committee.- Irrawady, 11/7/2009, Burmese Detainees in Danger,

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