Brief Situation Report of Rohingya Refugees in Malaysia
On the occasion
World Refugee Day- 20 June 2009
ARAKAN ROHINGYA REFUGEE COMMITTEE (ARRC), MALAYSIA
(ARRC is a leading Rohingya Refugee Committee, dedicated to advocate the causes of refugees and asylum seekers)
PO Box-11882, 50760 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia E-mail: email@example.com Blog: http://arrcinfo.blogspot.com/
© Copy Rights: ARRC
Copying and distribution of the Report for the Wellbeing of Rohingya Refugees is allowed.
This report was compiled by Habibur Rahman, the General Coordinator of ARRC, and was edited by Mohammad Sadek, the Program Coordinator of ARRC, while special review was performed by Muhammad Saifullah, the youth activities and education Training Affairs Secretary of the National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPHR) exile, South East Asia Regional Office.
This report was encouraged by area based Rohingya Refug Communities in Malaysia and overseas Rohingya organizations and representatives, especially Kyaw Soe Aung the General Secretary of NDPHR (exile) USA Headquarter, with an aim to advocate the plight of forgotten Rohingya refugees in Malaysia to get equal access in every quarter including their resettlement to third countries to find permanent solution.
ARRC Coordinating Committee expects that the Rohingya refugees may extend their helpful hands to serve the causes of their Rohingya both in home and exile, if they were resettled in third countries that based on situation prefer.Coordinating Committee
Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC)
Dated: June 12, 2009
Brief Situation Report of Rohingya Refugees in Malaysia
On the occasion of World Refugee Day 2009OVERVIEW:
Rohingya refugee who took refuge in Malaysia for years, fallen into legal limbo as they are accessed unlike other refugees. The UN Refugee Agency practices prioritization towards non-Rohingya refugees, while Muslims refugees are stunted as prima-facie refugees. Exploitation of Rohingya refugees with verbal tasks is going on for the result of continuous engagements of so-called implementation partners.[]
In general, neither they are protected on close ground nor insisted under UNHCR mandate. Resettlement for decade based Rohingya refugees is yet to be referred; the host therefore, gave two options whether repatriation or resettlement.[]
Office instantly registered about 30,000 of non-Rohingya refugees and resettled 6,000 to signatory countries in a year (2008), where no significant numbers of Rohingya refugees were included in both processes. [] Significantly, this 30,000 is double larger group than present number of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia, while Rohingyas are untruly defined as a large group. Although repatriation is not yet suggested for them, policies[] show discriminative and tension of instigative is bringing amongst refugees.
Rohingya refugees were categorized to recognize as prima-facie refugees and thus not issued mandated refugee card. They are also recognized as illegal immigrants by Malaysian authorities within the boundary of its Immigration Act and legislation. They have already reached to 3rd generation without any legal status under any legislation for the results of disposing of Rohingya refugees into non-signatory country, Malaysia.
UNHCR Policy towards Rohingya Refugees:
As for the overall strategy, in cooperation with the Government of Malaysia, UNHCR is promoting and supporting group based temporary solutions in respect of the Rohingya Muslim population from Myanmar and persons of concern from the Indonesian Province of Aceh, based on their links to Malaysia. For all other persons of concern, who are categorized as in need of international protection those who have no links to Malaysia, UNHCR is working on resettlement solutions in third countries[].
UNHCR officials have come to say something to the Rohingya refugees that both party need to have trust building process in order to reduce misunderstanding between each of UNHCR and Rohingya refugees [], but some staffs say, Rohingyas are not considered in vulnerable group who do not know to deal with UNHCR professionally[], when a group of Rohingya refugee representatives approach to the office gate to submit an open letter to the office. During this time, one[] of the staffs wanted to apply Internal Security Act (ISA)[] against refugees with a view to disperse group representation which denied by responsible UNHCR official.
In most cases, where UNHCR intervened to stop deportation proceedings, the authorities respected the principle of non-refoulement[]. But UNHCR try utmost to maintain silence on the matter of Rohingya refugee detainees with a view to draw attention of Malaysian authorities to gain sympathy for refugees. Anyway, the Government authorities do not care on the issue in respect of Malaysian Laws and regulations.
Sometimes, UNHCR Malaysian staffs forced the Rohingyas in detention camps to accept voluntary deportation to Thailand for early release but never afforded any financial assistance to return from border or to pay agent fees[].
Treatment in UNHCR Office:
The Rohingya refugees are the worst victims of discriminations and marginalization[] at the UNHCR office. UNHCR does not allow Rohingya refugee to enter UNHCR compound without fixed appointment. Those who do not leave UNHCR premise without response are handed over to police.[] Those who managed to enter, were kept sitting up to 5:00 PM. During the time of interview, refugees are threatened by UNHCR Staff. Sometimes, staffs engage interpreter to have talks with applicants to proceed under table payment for UNHCR services[].
Sometimes, Rohingya refugees are forcefully returned, ignoring their problems by the security guards as per the suggestion of UNHCR officials. In some occasions, guards also beat up[] the Rohingya refugees with various kinds of verbal abuses. Tensions between UNHCR local staffs and Rohingya refugees are likely increased since some office staffs were terminated.[]
It is obvious that the agency has stopped the registration of Rohingya refugees from
early 2006, saying that Malaysia is keen to provide temporary shelter for Rohingya because of their religious belief, as signatory countries are non-Muslims.
Malaysia is not a signatory to 1951 Convention Relating to the status of Refugees/ 1967 Protocol and has no constitutional, legislative or administrative provisions dealing with the right to seek asylum or the protection of refugees. Despite acceding to the Convention on the Rights of Child (with 8 reservations) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), none of the articles potentially relevant to refugees or asylums seekers in these treaties have been the subject of enabling legislation or administrative practice.
Any person who enters or remains in Malaysia illegally is liable to prosecution under the Immigration Act 1959/63 (Act 155), which may result in indefinite detention without judicial scrutiny, corporal punishment in the form of whipping with a Rotan[] cane across the buttocks or back, fine and deportation. The vast majority of persons of concerns fall into the category of “illegal immigrants” under Malaysian Laws, which provides no legal method to differentiate those in need of international protection from other migrants. Thus, asylum seekers and refugees alike are at constant risks of arrest, detention, prosecution, imprisonment, caning and deportation; some cases are resulted in refoulement in the past.
Policy of Malaysian Government:
Government of Malaysia does not recognize refugee or political asylum in the country. It is allowing refugees to stay in Malaysia on humanitarian ground that only to let them chance to resettle in third country, while the agency is allowed to tackle its refugees and asylum seekers or persons of concern.
Relating to Rohingya refugees, Malaysia announced to issue IMM-13[] in the year 2004 to find an alternative solution for them as they are denied by Burmese authority and thus try to encourage UNHCR to provide temporary protection card as refugees, who later may get chance for resettlement in third countries or to collect data of these people to repatriate them to Burma, when the government manage to agree with regime.
There were periodic reports of ill treatment of undocumented migrant workers and asylum seekers in detention camps and during deportation. Conditions in detention camps, including the provision of adequate medical care, food and clean water, failed to meet international standards. Fears that conditions could worsen due to increased overcrowding mounted after the government announced plans in July to arrest and deport over 1.2 million suspected illegal immigrants by the end of 2005. Concerned about the planned mass deportations included the lack of fair individual assessment procedures for detained migrants, serious weaknesses in fair trial safeguard for those prosecuted under the immigration Act, and inadequate protection for more vulnerable detainees, including women and children [].
Very visible prosecutions are going against Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers as in most cases, UNHCR do not intervene to get release of Rohingya with an implication of their links with Malay people on their religious background.
Since early 2006, UNHCR has stopped registering of Rohingya refugees with a view to reduce refugee populations or to find temporary settlement in Malaysia in aversion their race and religion in the office. Following this, tens of thousands of Rohingya have live without any document in Malaysia for who no effective advocacy group is found yet, beside some self benefiting NGOs using the cases of Rohingyas.
Since March 2005, the Attorney General started prosecuting refugees who are detained based on offences under the Immigration Act.
Following the announcement of Malaysia about Imm-13 (temporary visit pass or work permit) for Rohingyas, the UN Refugees’ Agency cutoff its supports and providing misinforming to the world to reduce paying attentions, as the agency is trying utmost to solve the problem by alternative way of absorbing them into Malaysia’s work forces.
Agency’s commitment through short term assistances to some vulnerable cases is not enough and most cases of widowers, handicappers, cripples, aged, are not fallen into its expectation.
The Malaysian government does not pay clear attention to the suffering situation of them and consider as like as illegal immigrants under its Immigration Act. The government also believes that the Rohingyas’ are person of concern to the UNHCR and waiting for resettlement in a 3rd country or UNHCR is only refugee agency in taking care of all possible responsibilities.
Casually, the problems of Rohingya refugees remain unsolved, usually therefore, the host’s frequently discuses for repatriation into origin of persecution.[] As well as, the agency is keen to agree on such repatriation, rather than finding durable solution. []
Arrest, Detention and Deportation:
Recognition as illegal can remove any time from its territory and removing under deportation act.[] Therefore, refugees in Malaysia are subjected to untold sufferings. At least 300 refugees are arrested in a month, consisting of baby, children, pregnant women and women, sick, and aged. Instant fleeing into jungles and bribery and then reports of misbehaviors activities by Rela or authorities is continued.
Even though UNHCR card holders are not acquainted from punishment of cane whipping, their trial process are kept pending for UNHCR intervention which is longer period than illegal immigrants in order to prove undocumented refugees or/illegal immigrants to bring charges of imprisonment and punishment of cane whipping. They have to face charges, if no intervention is met from UNHCR.
Coercion reports of over crowding, malnutrition food and inappropriate drinking water proved inhumane treatments. Detainees also face threatening, routinely beating, separation from family. The detention camps are not accorded with international standard and no medical NGOs are accessed and thus continue or infected tuberculosis and mold as latest H1N1. The conditions were proved[] in local newspaper NST. And latest dead continue affects of H1N1 in Juru detention camp, Penang.[]
In most cases, refugee detainees themselves come to agree constantly for deportation in order to escape from such horrific conditions.
According to the USCR Survey Report 2007, refugees who were detained would be met full interview and those passed were eligible for resettlement.[] No reflection was made yet towards Rohingya refugee detainees until writing of the report. Rohingya refugees have no alternative way to get release from detention center or deport into other territory or Burma. So, they are officially handed over to human trafficking agents[] after immigration received official withdrawal from UNHCR. Due to failure of legal intervention by its custodies, immigration also committed to take advantage on their conditions.
Compare to previous year, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has stopped the registration of Rohingya refugees from early 2006. And thus most of the victims are found Rohingya refugees in every quarter, while agency continued to provide services and to register non-Rohingya Burmese refugees under the term of vulnerability and no linkage with Malaysian society. Currently, hundreds of undocumented Rohingya refugees are kept pending for UNHCR intervention in various detention centers of Malaysia.
Rohingya children below 16 years are estimated to about 6,000 and out of 90% are engaged in collection of recycle materials[] or child labor in Malaysia. The government does not have policy to accept any suggestion made by various local NGOs or Refugee Project holders including UNHCR’s refugee children in public schools.
Currently, UNHCR-Tzuchi[] Education Center has opened 4 new informal education sectors for 233 Rohingya children but UNHCR is untruly claiming about 600,[] while about 5,000 are still languishing in such circles. In fact, the Rohingya refugee children are deprived of recognized education, which does not bring hope for their future.
However, UNHCR had come to denote that 3,600 Rohingya refugee children in Malaysia, are not getting a basic education due to financial and bureaucratic obstacles.[] The children need to learn how to read and write. They must know how to count. They must know science and geography. What future will our Rohingya children have without knowledge? More than 70% of Rohingya children are of school age.[]
Being uneducated, the Rohingya refugees are not eligible [] for resettlement, while other side say, UNHCR supports for education is to settle down the refugees in Malaysia and to make easier to access in public schooling. [] In many occasions, UNHCR say, we give priority towards educated refugees[] to resettle in USA.
UNHCR and implementation partners try to believe that refugee children will be allowed to go to public school if the refugees receive Imm-13. But, the government has repeated that the Imm-13 is not travel permit or permanent resident and it card holder children are allowed to learn in private sector only. Thus, today Imm-13 holder Sabah children are not allowed to go to public school [] as well.
The Rohingya refugees are facing serious difficulties in getting medical facilities in every health center, clinic or hospital. For the matter of undocumented, they are completely gone into dire situation. UNHCR card holder refugees are given 50% offer by Malaysian Government but the rest 50% are charged as Europeans, comparatively different from regular fees.[]
In many cases, although refugee themselves pay deposit for registration of medical treatment, but the sick refuges are handed over to authority for un-payable of the rest amount of 50%. Medication facilities go delay to prove referral from UNHCR.
Because of UNHCR’s intentional referral and medical officer’s confirmation, many cases of medications are remained incomplete, some lost their lives.
Perception is that medical expenses are unbearable for Rohingya refugee in their low income. Due to financial hardship, many Rohingyas are suffering psychological problems and malnutrition.
ACTS[] has set up free clinic for refugees in Brickfield[] area. However, it is quite a far from the Rohingya’s living area; and ACTS does not have good equipment to diagnosis diseases. Early proposals to set up free clinic in areas of Rohingya refugee resides, was putting in discussion only. []
Recently, numbers of recognized refugees or UNHCR card holders were expelled from their work sectors as their documents are not recognized by the Malaysian Government’s Legislation. As per the procedures, at least 25 UNHCR Card holding Rohingya refugees were shifted by immigration from a work sector of Nilai-2 on April 28, 2009. [] Their arrest clarified that refugees are the genuine victims of illegal immigrants. []
According to Immigration Act, the employers are not free from charges for employing with UNHCR document holding refugees on the basis of understanding. This information is spread out in across the country. Following this, at least 50 Rohingya refugees were terminated from their work sector in Subang Lama and thus refugees are passing lives in fear and tear in finding sources of income for their survival.
In all walks of the life of Rohingya refugees, victimization is continued as they cannot show any kinds of legal documents.
Mostly, the Rohingyas face problem to rent house as they do not have legal document. Sometimes, house owners get warning from concerned authorities, for renting houses to illegal immigrants. Some, who managed to rent a house, bring numbers of Rohingya refugees to stay together in congested rooms. Rohingyas also need to pay fees to broker to arrange rental house.
In many occasions, the Rohingya refugees try to house in jungle side, but reluctant to show their houses in dirty place to prove their civilization.
The Rohingya refugees have to maintain their sociality separately as local do not recognize them or authority do not allow them to practice their culture and tradition.
Although, Rohingyas are Muslim by religion, their marriage registrations are kept behind the bar with a view to a distinct role between locals and foreigners.
Sometimes, hospital authority hands over new born child to immigration for their failure to pay hospital bills or show legal passport. It is true that many local staffs do not interest to provide service for Rohingya refugees in hospitals. Such mothers also face annihilation for taking child in refugee life. []
Besides, Rohingya refugees are not free from the attacks of goons. Often robe, beat up[], hijacked[] and even extort money without any condition.
Mohammed Salim, son of Osman Gani, a recognized Rohingya refugee of UNHCR was handed over to police by UNHCR staff as whilst he was awaiting to get response from official for his appeal of protection and humanitarian assistance, after escaping from assassination.
After detail studies about the situation of Roghingya Refugees in Malaysia, note able recommendation has come to find a permanent solution, resettling them to third countries because the Rohingya are not wanted in South East Asia by the influence of Burmese military regime in ASEAN nation.
There is no confusion over this report as the organization done comprehensive research which is totally true from the right angel and the concerned refugee quarters would take appropriate measures to have an independent investigation to the issue in order to strengthened security measure for the Rohingya refugee under international protection Standard.
Raymond Hall, UNHCR Regional Coordinator for Asia has summed up the terrible plight of Rohingya refugees.[]
To the Government of Malaysia:
- To take step to advocate the plights of Rohingya to the world in order to reduce refugee phenomena in Malaysia through equal burden sharing under their resettlement to third countries;
- To ensure the protection and human dignity of Rohingya refugees as they are the worst victim of human rights violations;
- To address the plight of Rohingya refugees in every regional event, particularly in ASEAN, while mounting pressure on Burmese military regime for urgent democratization in the country.
To United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):
- To regularize new registration of undocumented Rohingya refugees without further delay as it recommended by various human rights and refugee concerned quarters which is not yet taken step by frontier UNHCR;
- To immediately and unconditionally remove the marginalization of Rohingya refugees and to speed up steps to ensure refugee rights for Rohingya refugees;
- To schedule the cases of Rohingya refugees for resettlement to third country as equal as other non-Rohingya refugees in every quota;
- To ensure the protection and human dignity for Rohingya refugees, extending more effective and international protection mechanism;
- To strengthen appropriate relationship with Arakan Rohingya refugee Committee (ARRC), the only dedicated refugee organization to create actual working environment for the welfare of Rohingya refugees in finding permanent solution for their long standing problems;
- To cease all kinds of hypocrisy and misconducts of office staffs and staff members of implementation partners in getting funds and its utilizations with planned way theories.
To the international Community:
- Appeal to put pressure on Burmese military regime to have democratic changes in the country , starting from freeing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners including U Kyaw Min (a) Mr. Shamsul Anwarul Haque, the leader of Rohingya ethnic minority, MP of National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPHR) and member of Committee Representing for People’s Parliament (CRPP);
- To increase supports and assistances for Rohingyas in all over the world is in general and to liberate Rohingya refugees from Malaysia with appropriate measures is in particular;
- To make space in resettlement quotas for Rohingya refugees in Malaysia;
- To set up effective mechanism to investigate misconducts and abuse of UNHCR in Malaysia and bring the staffs into account for necessary action that only to keep the UN Agency’s efficiency and transparency;
- To accept/recognize the representation of Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC) to every quarter in finding permanent solution for the long-standing plight of Rohingyas.
Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC), Malaysia
Dated: June 12, 2009
 In the 3rdmeeting on March 19, 2009, new protection officer of UNHCR Mr. Alvin Gosaga quoted that resettlement is not depend on proposal of refugees, Representative or UNHCR but depend on stakeholder parties. Therefore, implementation partners were accused in engaging of temporary solution for Rohingya refugees.
 The Star, on April 9, 2009, Malaysia.
 Note from the speech of Mr. Alan Vernon, new representative of UNHCR Malaysia at Selangor Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall, on February 13, 2009 and The Daily Malay Mail, Spotlight on Plight of Refugees on Feb.23, 2009, p-11.
 The policies continued to resettle non-Rohingya refugees who are able go back to home country without fear as they are recognized as national ethnic groups.
 UNHCR Kuala Lumpur, 31 March 2005: UNHCR’s view on the concept of effective protection as it relates to Malaysia.
 Note from Mr. Alan Vernon, New Representative of UNHCR’s speech on February 13, 2009 at Selangor Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall.
 Outgoing Protection officer Ms. Cecile Fradot spoke to refugee representative over telephone in front of Royal Malaysian police and Special Brach on 25 February 2009. She rarely excuse for problems, faced by Rohingya refugees in the past at various meetings with Rohingya refugee representatives.
 Haji Ibrahim Mohammed Amin, the current security officer of UNHCR who served in Bukit Aman (Malaysian) Police asked duty officer of police to apply ISA against Rohingya refugees.
 ISA is a law that applies for the security of country; particularly the act was applied against communist in 1970s and against the movement of oppositions in the recent year.
 Abid UNHCR’s view …p-1.
 Salim Ullah, 15 years of Rohingya refugee said, who was detained for 3 times in Malaysia. Every time, he was encouraged by UNHCR Malaysian staff to volunteer it, and that way, he was repeatedly victimized by policy of UNHCR.
 Mr. Stephen Smith, the Foreign Minister of Australia, seriously concerned about marginalization Rohingya in Bali Process on 14-15 April 2009, The Brisbane Times, 15/4/2009.
 Mr. Mohammed Salim, who was victimized by local goon, approached to UNHCR and waited to get swift response but official handed over to police to take action under police act. Police set free him from Brickfield police station, while he explained his odds and vulnerabilities.
 Mr. Abdullah (not real name), an old Rohingya refugee confirmed to Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC) that interpreter needs money to make successful application of financial assistance.
 The Sail, April 15, 2009 http://thesail.wordpress.com/page/3/
 A local male staff from Field Service Team (FST), [currently removed the unit], was terminated in the end of December 2008; and a female staff from Refugee Status Determination Unit, was terminated in early January 2009 with corruption reports and misconducts.
 As per the Holy Quran and Hadith, apply for illegal intercourse between boy and girl without getting marriage.
 IMM-13 is a temporary visit pass. It does not entitle the permission to work, or to become permanent resident/citizen in Malaysia. It holders are being displaced and wrangled for many times in Sabah State.
 Malaysia: Annual Report Entry-May 2005, Amnesty International Malaysia, Power by Journal, generated on January 27, 2007.
 Sinar Harian on April 9, 2009.
 Refugees are not always able to return safely home or to remain in the country where they received asylum. There are situation in which resettlement to a third country the only safe and viable durable solution for refugees: (Refugee Resettlement Watch).
 A letter of Immigration Ref: IM101/HQ-E(S)/803/09/15/08, p-1.
 The New Straight Times, dated September 23, 2008.
 The Star, May 29, 2009
 US Committee for Refugee Survey Report 2007, published in The New Fortune Monthly, August 2008, Vol. 1, Issue-2, Kuala Lumpur..
 Millennia Muslim Magazine, January 2008.
 The New Fortune Monthly, Vol.1, Issue.4, October 2008
 Taiwan Buddhist Tzuchi Foundation, an implementing partner of UNHCR, is running 4 informal sectors from January 2008. The Burmese pro-democracy opposition groups feel upset for the services of China in strengthening Burmese military regime, while UNHCR is merely assigning it as agency’s partner.
 Noted from the statement of Ms. Ellie Al Daqqa, the head of UNHCR Community Development Unit, shows so-called sympathy over Muslim and her encouragement brings to a model of conspiracy.
 UNHCR article written by Yante Ismail: Hope for Malaysia’s home learning Rohingya refugees? http:// www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin-texis/vtx/print?tbl=NEWS&id=44b7c41d4, dated 14 July 2006.
 Abid, UNHCR article, dated 14 July 2006.
 Abdullah (not real name) who applied for resettlement to UNHCR was replied by Ms. Zakiah, a Local staff for UNHCR resettlement Unit. It is clear that uneducated are misinformed, while educated are accused of emotional access.
 Outgoing protection officer Ms. Cecile Fradot, said in a meeting of Migrant Working Group on 22-24 September 2008.
 Uneducated are misinformed, while educated are accused of emotional access.
 A local NGO called Berneo Chid Aid Society, provides basic school facility to Pilipino refugee children in Sabah but fail to get admission in public schools.
 Malaysian locals have to pay RM 1, but the Rohingyas have to pay RM 25, if the person holds UNHCR ID Card. In case of UNHCR Paper or undocumented, has to pay RM 50 without any condition.
 Kampulan ACTS Sdn Bhd is a local NGO which is an implementing partner of UNHCR for medical facilities.
 Brickfield a place, situated in Southern Part of Kuala Lumpur, where mostly non Rohingya refugees reside. Non-Rohingya coordinators are engage for every facility who often underestimates the Rohingyas.
 UNHCR and NGOs do not pay attention to the needs of health services for Rohingya. Some say, donation comes from non-Muslim groups, so need to give priority to donors proposal. Rohingya should approach Malay society or Mosques to get such facilities.
 The Sail, a web blog http//:thesail.wordpress.com
 Ms. Siti Rohizah, a mother of 13-months old child and Rohingya refugee, reported to ARRC on 8-6-2009 that her husband together with 10 others were arrested from KNM project in Kuantan, when they were searching for livelihoods for themselves and family members, are being detained in Kemayan camp. Basically, UNHCR or any other quarter do not provide foods and shelter for any refugees in Malaysia. So, the poor lady is struggling to alive with her innocent child.
 Authorities think that refugee women might not be practice mother nature, while men would not get marriage or /…..
 The Sail, http://thesail.wordpress.com//page/2/
 Abid. http://thesail.wordpress.com//page/3/
 Gred Trode, “No home, littile hope,” South China Morning Post, March 10, 2009 and Human Right Watch report “Perilous Plight” dated May 26, 2009.