By NDPHR(exile), 24 October 2008…
We, the Rohingya refugees from different areas in Malaysia stress our great expectation over the Amnesty International (AI) Malaysia that the agency will pave a role to find durable solution for our plights which have been kept behind the bar and inadequate protection. It is also a decades of failure in the advancement of advocacy.
Today, we wish to call upon Amnesty International (AI) Malaysia to take proactive steps to advocate the causes of marginalized Rohingya refugees and to encourage United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and world bodies to pay attention to the long standing problems of Rohingyas in order to ensure their basic and fundamental human rights which were set forth by the United Nations Charters and Conventions.
while submitting a memo by area base Rohingya refugees from Malaysia
We are the people who love peace, justice, freedom and harmony for the people of the world regardless of race, religion, color, sex and cultural orientation. But, the military regime of Burma made us as the worst victims of human rights violation, not only in Burma but also in its neighboring countries, particularly its allied states such as Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and etc.
Rohingya are oppressed, displaced, treated as intruders and pushed into danger of extinction. Rohingyas rights to citizenship were denied, lands and possession were confiscated, freedom of movement, worship, thought and assembly are restricted, rights of marriage and education are banned, arbitrary arrest, widespread, rape, racial discrimination, extortion, and forced labor, violence, torture and extrajudicial killings are very common against Rohingya. Due to such kinds of brutal behaviors, atrocities, ethnic cleansing and religious discrimination of Burmese military regime, we (Rohingya) were compelled to take refuge in different parts of the world. An unspecific numbers of Burmese Rohingya have arrived in Malaysia.
Despite being the victims of inhumane pogrom, our cases have been kept behind the bar, while discriminations from various quarters are triggered against our people as well. Meanwhile, we are living in sub-human condition. We don’t have food to eat, place to stay, work to employ, cloth to wear and medicine to treat. Our children are passing lives in extreme vulnerability. They are underway to unexpected exploitation. Our women are being marginalized. Many of our people are being trafficked by smugglers.
Due to unavoidable circumstances and deprivation of fundamental human rights of refugees, many Rohingya refugees have begun secondary migration to find a safe place, whether in the river, sea, ocean and mountains or jungles. Of them, some managed to reach in Australia whose refugee status were granted by the new Prime Minister of Australia and many are still remain missing on their way to destination of safe place.
On the other hand, many Rohingya refugees got arrested in hand of Malaysian authorities and were deported to Thai-Malaysia border under the Malaysian Laws. But these vulnerable souls were sold to fishing boat or trafficked in different places for slavery for whom no information is coming out at all.
Rohingya refugee patients are being treated as people of rich countries at Malaysian hospital, which is totally unbearable for them as they don’t have regular work or permitted works to earn money for their survivals. Their children are barred from going to public schools whose rights are neglected by concerned quarters as well.
Refugee Status for the Rohingya refugees is not determined as non-Rohingya refugees from Burma. Rohingyas are given Prima-facie status that is not eligible for resettlement to a third country. Besides this, the document that issued by UNHCR for the Rohingya refugees is mentioned as Artificial Temporary Protection Card, which is quite different from other refugees. It has also mentioned that they can go back in their country of origin, if there were peace. This card not used in Malaysia and not recognized by international agencies or refugee resettling countries.
Meanwhile, the Rohingya refugees are branded to those who do not fall under that group of people to whom humanitarian assistance would be provided and considered as those whose permanent solution should be sought.
However, the Rohingya refugees are sure that they cannot go back to their country, unless their fundamental rights to citizenship are ensured. It is well known to the world that the Rohingyas are the only people in South and Southeast Asia who are the victims of consecutive harassments.
Being a main regime of refugees, UNHCR in Malaysia plays discriminatory roles against Rohingya refugees and pushing them to an assimilative system of Malayzation with some baseless relationship with Malays and their religious belief. When Rohingya refugees face confrontation with Police, Rela and Immigration, the agency remain silent and when any refugee reports to UNHCR hotline about arrest, the receiver only says that report received and does not take any action. When refugees reach to detention camp, UNHCR ask refugees to provide detainee number and location, where refugee cannot access at all. It means that Rohingya refugees would work for themselves as UNHCR does not interest to protect them.
Questions may made here that if Rohingya refugees can access to get release of refugees and manage to fulfill their needs, what would be the role of UNHCR for the protection of Rohingya refugees and what are the roles of Amnesty International and other human rights groups in focusing insincerity of UNHCR officials in Malaysia and to find durable solution to the plights of Rohingya refugees.
It is true that the religious status of Rohingya refugees do not have similarity with Malays which is same similar to other religions such as Roman Catholic, Baptist and Seven-day Adventist in Christianity, Mahayana and Theravada in Buddhism, Brahman, Vishnu and Chuddar in Hinduism. Besides, these, the Rohingya refugees are adjustable and mixable with other people and culture, keeping their original tradition and standard. But, now, they are pushed by UNHCR to accept Malay tradition, standard and culture following religious sub-class.
It is also true that there is no law for the protection of refugees in Malaysia and thus the Rohingya refugees are facing security problems and passing lives in the circle of arrest, detention, deportation; and hopeless and hapless in the host country with various depressions. Although, Malaysia ratified two of UN’s conventions such Convention on the Right of Child (CRC) and Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the country has yet to plan to ratify refugee convention in order to avoid floodgate for illegal immigrants.
Under these situations, the Rohingya refugees are treated as illegal immigrants in Malaysia, while UNHCR is pushing us to find temporary solution like Pilipino Muslims in Sabah.
This example is strong life evidence that local integration is impossible for Rohingya refugees in Malaysia, while the result of human rights abuses in Burma is also the evidence that they cannot be repatriated to their country of origin. Meanwhile the only option of resettlement in a third country with full refugee status is left from the mandates of Refugees Conventions.
We also would like to express our concern over the deprivation of our rights to identification of our vulnerabilities and plights; and thus we are not given chance to meet our obligation, which was set forth by United Nations Resolution.
The United Nations resolution also declared that October 24 is United Nations Day. For the occasion of this respected day, we call upon the Amnesty International:-
To encourage UNHCR to provide adequate protection for Rohingya refugees in Malaysia in order to find permanent solution like non-Rohingya refugees who were recognized by the agency;
To put pressure on UNHCR to regularize Refugee Status Determination (RSD) and Resettlement (RST) process for Rohingya refugees without further delay;
To mobilize UNHCR to declare the full refugee status of Rohingya refugees who are registered with UNHCR and holding UNHCR TP Card and to issue the card as equal as non-Rohingya Burmese refugees;
To manage UNHCR to improve respect and implementation of basic human rights for the Rohingya refugees, providing food, shelter, clothes, medication, protection, financial assistance, protection and education as soon as possible as they are underway to danger of uncertainty, which should be continued till their resettlement in a third country;
To encourage UNHCR to eliminate improper sources providing, illogical exampling, undocumented responding and telephone threat to refugees, while eradicating the doubtful under table payments for UNHCR facilities;
To uphold an international campaign for the Rohingya refugees in Malaysia and to produce particular report on them in order to advocate the causes of forgotten Rohingya refugees and to find durable solution for them.
To bring the issue of Rohingya refugees before the United Nations Meeting as the Rohingyas are the neediest refugees for equal treatment of UNHCR in Malaysia and in need of resettlement in third country which is warranted by the situation here.
Mohammad Sadek Habibur Rahman
Program Coordinator General Coordinator
Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC)
Tel: 016 3094599 Tel: 0122595185/0166948977