Monthly Archives: June 2008

Amnesty Warns of Rights Violations in Malaysia’s Plan to Expel Immigrants




by EILEEN ENG / AP WRITER /KUALA LUMPUR Friday, June 27, 2008

An international rights group urged Malaysia on Friday to revise its plan to chase out tens of thousands of Filipino and Indonesian illegal immigrants amid concerns it may lead to human rights violations.

Amnesty International Malaysia said the immigrants include a large number of asylum seekers and refugees who had fled from the conflict-ridden Mindanao region in the southern Philippines to Malaysia’s eastern Sabah state on Borneo island.

In addition, many are stateless people and migrants who had lived in Sabah for more than a decade, including children who now risk being expelled.

“We fear that the simplistic and arbitrary action of mass crackdown by the federal government in addressing such a serious and complex issue will elevate the ongoing human rights and humanitarian concerns in Sabah and the region to a serious crisis level,” it said in a statement.

“We are of the opinion that the federal government’s unilateral action may result in serious human rights violations.”

Amnesty cited concerns such as cruel treatment of detainees, punishment including flogging under immigration laws, and lack of adequate health care in detention for women, children and other vulnerable groups.

In 2002, it said reports indicated that mass deportations of undocumented migrants led to deaths of children due to dehydration and disease in Sabah’s detention centers.

Amnesty urged the government to study the migrant issue in Sabah carefully before taking any action.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak announced Tuesday that authorities will soon launch a massive operation to flush out and deport foreigners without travel or identification documents from Sabah, which borders both the Philippines and Indonesia.

Authorities estimated there are some 130,000 illegals in Sabah. But the state’s politicians insist the real figure is several times that, and claim that foreigners outnumber Malaysians in some provinces.

The issue has long been a bitter grievance for Sabah politicians, who accuse the federal government of failing to oust job-seeking foreigners after their permits expire.

In its last crackdown in 2005, the government deported 300,000 illegal immigrants, mostly Indonesians, from Sabah.

Indonesian officials have expressed concerns that the new expulsion plan could lead to a demand for workers in Sabah’s timber and plantation industries, which will again encourage the return of illegal immigrants.

Forced to perform oral sex by cops


Forced to perform oral sex by cops




It’s not easy moving on..*


But I promised both of us I’d do my best not to dwell on it.


I’m just glad her dad is feeling better :) (it was due to concussion apparently, not stroke as earlier reported. Whatever it is, I’m just glad for signs of recovery)


*Speaking of which though, there are a number of cases Li Tsin reported on recently that I thought it was really important to call extra attention to.


Expectedly, tales of vicious human rights abuses and horrific maltreatment of detainees often takes a back seat to Malaysia’s currently very sexy political scene.


Let’s not lose ourselves in scandals and drama though, and forget how the dignity of human beings is being beaten and raped in our own backyard.


The first incident took place in the Semenyih detention camp for undocumented migrants:



The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has confirmed that immigration officers had badly beaten up three Burmese refugees at the Semenyih detention camp two nights ago.


Suhakam Commissioner N Siva Subramaniam, who visited the detention camp yesterday, said the incident had been sparked off by the discovery of tobacco, deemed a contraband item under camp rules.


“After finding (it), immigration officers beat three Burmese refugees on the head with shoes and stepped on their thighs and legs. The (detainees) showed me marks where they were hit,” he told Malaysiakini.


“We take this incident very seriously as this is not the first time that such things have happened.”


The commissioner also said the Burmese trio were not taken to a hospital but were only given basic medical treatment by the immigration officers.


Siva said the main reason why such incidents occur is because there is a shortage of immigration officers in the camp.


“There are so many problems there (but) 70 percent of vacancies have not been (filled). The majority (who are) recruited and posted to the detention camp do not understand what human rights are,” he said.


“The immigration officers fail to understand that the refugees are also human beings and must be treated as such.”


He lambasted Rela for indiscriminately arresting even documented refugees causing many of them to be detained unnecessarily.


According a recently released international report, Malaysia is one of the worst places in the world for refugees.


This apparently led to an uprising in the camp, the second such case in recent times.


I would be disinclined to think of this incident as the result of unruly and ungrateful illegal immigrants, until one of us has spent even one night in those camps.


These detention centers used to be run by the Prisons department, who at least have the slightest sliver of professionalism when it comes to detention. Can we expect immigration officers to know the first thing about such things? A foolish policy, if you ask me.


Also, the NST report states that a group of Iranians were hurt. MSRI contends that those men were instead Palestinian (letter reproduced below). So much for standing up for Palestinian rights.


*


We apparently don’t love Malaysians much more either. A recent horrific case:



Four individuals have lodged complaints of police abuses, including being forced to perform oral sex, during their remand to the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).


Originally, five individuals were arrested in Cheras on May 29 and held at the Kajang police station on a seven-day remand. During which two of them – one of them a juvenile – were forced to perform oral sex on each other.Four of them were also beaten up before getting their remands extended for another three days where the abuses continued.


“The sergeant who made them perform oral sex on each other was angry that they informed the magistrate about it (abuses) and asked them why they made the complaint.


“He then made them lick his boots, sprayed Ridsect (insect repellent) on their faces and were then beaten up with pipes by three or four police officers.


Video:



What. The. Fuck.


When are we going to get a government that is serious about human rights? Serious about sentisizing those in power, and kicking out the monsters we allow to wear uniforms that are supposed to be about noble service.


Unbearable.



Letter frm MSRI on the Iranian/Palestinian detainees:


On the 18th of April, three young Palestinian men arrived at KLIA from Dubai. Upon arrival, they received a one-month visa.


They are from Gaza. To have been born and raised in Gaza they must have seen a lot of misery, violence and bloodshed. The Gaza Strip has been occupied by the Israeli army since 1967. So these three young men have never known a Gaza that is free; they do not know anything else but occupation. In September 2005, the Israeli army completely withdrew from Gaza and the illegal Israeli settlers were moved out. But Israel continues to control Gaza’s borders, sea access and the air space over the whole strip. The Gaza strip is the biggest prison on earth, with about 1.4 mio inhabitants, of which almost 1 mio are UNRWA-registered refugees.


From such a harsh place, the three young Palestinian men came to Malaysia, a veritable paradise on earth. Malaysia, through it’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, is well known throughout the Middle East for it’s support for a free and independent state of Palestine. All three of the men have medical issues; nothing severe, just trauma, some damaged bones and nerves; one of them has a crippled leg.


Three weeks after the arrival in Malaysia, a local NGO took up their call on humanitarian grounds, sent them to a hospital, where they got out-patient treatment for the nerve damage; an operation for the crippled leg was also scheduled for the 28 of May. Their visa was extended for another month, provisional on the operation and follow-up treatment.


On 17 of May, at night, they were arrested at the room they rented. There had been an accusation that they had threatened an official, were using drugs and had brought prostitutes to their room. Upon arrest, nothing of the sort was found by the police; and after two weeks in police custody, they were transferred to Semenyih to be deported, despite the fact that they had not been charged with any offence, had a valid visa upon arrest, as well as an open return ticket back to Dubai.


They had become unwanted people in Malaysia, and their passports were stamped with a 5-year entry ban.


The NGO that had arranged for their medical treatment – which after all could not be carried out – tried to help with a speedy deportation, because by now, all the three young men wanted was to leave this ‘paradise’. As they cannot go back to Gaza, and the requirement for deportation is to the place of origin, where are they to go?


Dubai, where they came from and to which they have valid visas, was out of the question, they were told by a Semenyih official. The flight booked after they were transferred to Semenyih was cancelled by the authorities. The official told the NGO that only Damascus in Syria would accept them, as they do not need a visa there. When the NGO raised the funds to buy tickets to Damascus, that booking was also cancelled by the Semenyih official, because, he said, Syria had changed their rules and was no longer an option, even though a few days before, the NGO had received a positive answer from the Syrian embassy.


The three have lost all hope to ever getting out of detention. To them, Malaysia is a prison worse than Gaza.


There has been a report that on 24 June there has been a riot at Semenyih Detention Camp, and the NGO has received information that one of the three young Palestinian men is now in hospital. What has happened? Have they responded to two months of unjustified imprisonment in the only way they know? By force? What trauma is Malaysia inflicting on them? How much longer do they have to be locked up in Malaysia? Until there is a Palestinian state? This may not happen during their lifetime!

Dr M: 22 fiascos in 22 years of power


Batman | Jun 27, 08 4:45pm, source from malaysiakini, posted by James,

 

Many of those who worshiped Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad cannot understand why Malaysians blame TDM for the woes of the country. I have compiled excerpts of reports which were published in the media in past years to refresh the memories of Malaysians, as to why many Malaysians feel that TDM did more bad than good for the country in his 22 years.

These 22 fiascos were published in the form of questions directed to TDM:

1. On clean government

You came to power in 1981 and introduced the slogan Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah (Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy). What did you do to further that? Did you make the Anti-Corruption Agency more independent and effective? Did you ensure that the police and judiciary did their jobs properly and reduce corruption in their ranks? Did you ensure that ministers and chief ministers not have incomesbeyond their legal means? How many big guns were prosecuted for corruption offences during your tenure? What happened to Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah?

2. Press freedom

Your criticism of the present government got plenty of coverage in the local media whereas, during your time, criticisms against you by two former prime ministers were muted in the mainstream newspapers. Editors in Umno-linked newspapers, too, were removed for not toeing the line. What did you do to advance the cause of responsible press freedom?

3. Proton

You went ahead with the national car project in 1983 despite a number of experts disagreeing with you, especially with respect to the lack of economies of scale. Isn’t it true that Proton’s profits over the past 20 years came from the vastly higher prices that the Malaysian public has had to pay to subsidiseProton, resulting in considerable hardship for Malaysians who need cars because of the poor public transport system? Why was it necessary for Proton to buy a stake in a failed Italian motorcycle manufacturer when it could not even produce cars competitively?

4. Heavy industries

Why did you push into heavy industries such as steel and cement in the 1980s, ignoring studies which suggested developing natural resource-based industries instead? They caused major problems and billions of ringgit in losses.

5. Immigration

Why did you allow hordes of people to emigrate, mainly from Indonesia, in such an unregulated way that there are as many or more illegal immigrants than legal ones now, accounting for some three million or more people? Did you not realise that this would cause serious social problems?

6. Operasi Lallang

Why did you have to resort to this move in October 1987, when you used the Internal Security Act (ISA) to detain over 100 people, close down four newspapers and cause a wave of fear throughout the country? Was it to consolidate your tenuous hold on power then by using an oppressive law?

7. Judiciary

What was your motive to take action in 1988 to remove the then Lord President and several Supreme Court judges from their positions under allegations of judicial misconduct, a move which was heavily criticised by the Bar Council and other bodies? Was it because you needed more compliant judges whose rulings would not threaten your position of power in a number of cases in court?

Was this the first step in dismantling the judiciary’s role as a system of check and balance against the legislature and the executive? What have you to say to repeated assertions by many, including prominent ex-chief justices, who maintain that this led to the erosion of judicial independence?

8. Education

Why did you allow our national school system, which is the ideal place to develop ties among young Malaysians, to become so divisive? Why is it that our local universities, once the preferred choice of tertiary education, have deteriorated to a level that even students who gain admission prefer to enroll into local private universities.

9. Malaysia Airlines

Why did your government sell MAS (private sale) to Tajuddin Ramli who had no knowledge whatsoever about running an airline? Why did your government then later bail out Tajuddin by paying RM8 per share when the shares were trading at only RM3.60 in the open market, costing close to RM1 billion of the rakyat’s money.

10. Privatisation

Why did you allow privatisation to take place in such a manner that the most profitable parts of government operations were sold away like Telekom Malaysia, Pos Malaysia and Tenaga Nasional? Tolled roads had guaranteed toll rate increases and compensations in the event traffic projections were not met. Independent power producers (IPPs) had contracts that guaranteed them profits at the expense of Tenaga Nasional. What was the justification of privatising the government medical stores to Southern Task Sdn Bhd, and the resulting increase in the prices of medicines?

11. Putrajaya

What is the justification for spending RM20 billion on a grandiose government city at a time when office space was available in Kuala Lumpur? Could the money not have been put to better use, such as improving educational resources?

12. Indah Water Konsortium

What was the basis of granting Indah Water Konsortium a concession to manage the national sewerage system? Could you explain the RM1.4 billion soft loan to IWK which clearly has irrecoverable losses?

13. Konsortium Perkapalan Berhad

Why did you rescue Konsortium Perkapalan Berhad (then owned by your son Mirzan) and which had debts of RM1.7 billion using funds from Petronas? Was it not your administration which forced Malaysian International Shipping Company (MISC) to acquire the assets of Konsortium Perkapalan Nasional?

14. Time Dotcom Bhd

Why did your administration bail out Time Dotcom Bhd which was saddled with a RM5 billion debt? Why did your government use RM904 million from Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen to buy up 273.9 million of unwanted Time Dotcom shares incurring an instant loss of RM280 million?

Did you not force the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to buy 81.6 million of the unsubscribed public portion of the initial public offering (IPO) of Time Dotcom Bhd at RM3.30 per share when the shares were trading at only between RM1.95 and RM2.10 and in the process incurring an instant loss of RM100 million?

15. LRT

Why did you bail out the light rail transit operators Projek Usahasama Transit Ringan Automatik Sdn Bhd (Putra), which belonged to Renong, and Sistem Transit Aliran Ringan Sdn Bhd (Star) using almost RM600 million from the EPF, which still resulted in EPF having to write off RM135 million with a share loss of RM96 million?

16. NorthSouth Expressway

Why did your administration award the North South Expressway concession to UEM (which then formed Plus) and then provide them with a loan of RM1.6 billion which was half of the tender price of RM3.2 billion? What was the justification for your administration to grant Plus such over-generous terms, which included annual increment of toll rates and guaranteed traffic volumes?

17. PSC Industries Berhad

Why did your administration in 1998 award a RM24.3 billion contract to PSC Industries Berhad, together with an advance of more than RM2.5 billion to build naval patrol boats? Why were they also given exclusive rights to service the Malaysian navy’s entire fleet? Could you confirm that the first two ships built by PSCI could not even pass pre-delivery trials? How would you answer to the Public Accounts Committee’s revelation that it will cost the government another RM120 million just to salvage the first two vessels nearing completion after seven years?

18. Bakun Dam

Why did you award Ekran Bhd the contract to build the Bakun hydroelectric dam in Sarawak? Why did your administration take over the construction of the dam by bailing out Ekran by almost RM200 million for ‘work done’?

19. InventQjaya

What was the basis of inviting Libyan-American Sadeq Mustaffa to Malaysia to set up InventQjaya Sdn Bhd and to also give him a grant of RM440 million? What was the benefit for Malaysia and how has Malaysia benefitted? What has happened to InventQjaya now?

20. Forex losses

Why did your administration dabble in speculation in the international money market which ultimately cost Bank Negara almost RM9.3 billion in losses?

21. Bank Bumiputra

Why did you allow the mismanagement of Bank Bumiputra, to the extent that it had to be bailed out three times, costing the country a total of RM3 billion? Again, by dipping into Petronas’ funds?

22. Perwaja Steel

Why did your administration allow Perwaja Steel to be mismanaged resulting in RM2.9 million of the rakyat’s money being squandered?

There you are – 22 fiascos in 22 years. The bad news is that there are actually more than 22. Remember the APs, Maminco, Renong and many more. Those who remember, please add on to this list.

North Korea destroys nuclear reactor tower


posted by Habib,

YONGBYON, North Korea – North Korea destroyed the most visible symbol of its nuclear weapons program Friday, blasting apart the cooling tower at its main atomic reactor in a sign of its commitment to stop making plutonium for atomic bombs.

An explosion at the base of the cylindrical structure sent the tower collapsing into a cloud of white and gray smoke that billowed into blue skies as international journalists and diplomats looked on, according to video footage filmed by international video news agency Associated Press Television News.

The demolition of the 60-foot-tall cooling tower at the North’s main reactor complex is a response to U.S. concessions after the North delivered a declaration Thursday of its nuclear programs to be dismantled.

“This is a very important step in the disablement process and I think it puts us in a good position to move into the next phase,” said Sung Kim, the U.S. State Department’s top expert on the Koreas who attended the demolition. Kim shook hands with a North Korean official following the tower’s tumble to the ground.

In its first reaction to the developments this week, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry welcomed Washington’s decision to take the country off the U.S. trade and sanctions blacklists.

“The U.S. measure should lead to a complete and all-out withdrawal of its hostile policy toward (the North) so that the denuclearization process can proceed smoothly,” the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The symbolic tower explosion came just 20 months after Pyongyang shocked the world by detonating a nuclear bomb in an underground test to confirm its status as an atomic power. The nuclear blast spurred an about-face in the U.S. hard-line policy against Pyongyang, leading to the North’s first steps to scale back its nuclear weapons development since the reactor became operational in 1986.

Last year, the North switched off the reactor at Yongbyon, some 60 miles north of the capital of Pyongyang, and it already has begun disabling the facility under the watch of U.S. experts so that it cannot easily be restarted.

The destruction of the cooling tower, which carries off waste heat to the atmosphere, is another step forward but not the most technically significant, because it is a simple piece of equipment that would be easy to rebuild.

Still, the demolition offers the most photogenic moment yet in the disarmament negotiations that have dragged on for more than five years and suffered repeated deadlocks and delays.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the tower’s destruction would mark a step toward disablement, something that has been ongoing for many months to prevent the North from making more plutonium for bombs.

“It is important to get North Korea out of the plutonium business, but that will not be the end of the story,” she said in Kyoto, Japan, on the sidelines of a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized countries.

North Korea’s nuclear declaration, which was delivered six months later than the country promised and has not yet been released publicly, is said to only give the overall figure for how much plutonium was produced at Yongbyon — but no details of bombs that may have been made.

Experts believe the North has produced up to 110 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium, enough for as many as 10 nuclear bombs.

The declaration was being distributed Friday by China, the chair of the arms talks, to the other countries involved, U.S. envoy Christopher Hill said.

“We’ll have to study it very carefully and then we’ll have to work on verification,” Hill said in Kyoto.

The declaration does not address the North’s alleged uranium enrichment program or suspicions of its nuclear proliferation to other countries, such as Syria.

___Associated Press writers Jae-soon Chang and Burt Herman in Seoul, South Korea and Matthew Lee in Kyoto, Japan contributed to this report.

First-Ever Legislation on Statelessness Introduced into Congress


 

source from Refugees International, posted by Habib
For Immediate Release: June 26, 2008
For Media Inquiries: Vanessa Parra, 202-828-0110 x225

First-Ever Legislation to Prevent and Reduce Statelessness Introduced
 into U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. ? Refugees International applauds Rep. Sheila
 Jackson-Lee (D-TX) and Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA) today for introducing the
 first-ever piece of legislation in the U.S. Congress that urges efforts to
 prevent and reduce statelessness. According to the UN refugee agency
 (UNHCR), some 12 million people worldwide are unable to claim citizenship
 to any country and are at risk of statelessness, because of war,
 secession, change of state boundaries or past discrimination. The new bill
 increases U.S. efforts to encourage states to recognize people who have
 no nationality where they

"Refugees International commends Representatives Jackson-Lee and Watson
 for recognizing the global impact of statelessness. By enacting this
 legislation, the U.S. Congress will be offering new hope to 12 million
 stateless people worldwide by making the prevention and resolution of
 statelessness a high priority for U.S. foreign policy for the first
 time," said Ken Bacon, president of Refugees International. "Reducing
 statelessness not only increases the quality of life for these individuals;
 it increases stability within nations, reduces forced displacement and
 trafficking, and even lessens refugee flows."

Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that
 "Everyone has the right to a nationality," 12 million people have not attained
 that right. Stateless people are often deprived of their right to
 education, to health care, to be legally employed, to own property, to be
 able to marry, to travel, or to vote. Children of stateless people are
 rarely able to escape this status and are at serious risk of becoming
 victims of traffickers or party to desperate and disaffected groups
 lacking peaceful means of recourse. Stateless individuals generally do not
 benefit from the protection and assistance of governments, the UN, or
 aid agencies.

"RI has observed that when stateless people obtain citizenship, they
 enjoy the benefits and responsibilities of full participation in civil
 society and protection under the rule of law. Yet, few resources are
 available to prevent and reduce statelessness," said Maureen Lynch, senior
 advocate for stateless initiatives at Refugees International. "Despite
 a mandate to work on behalf of stateless people, the UN refugee agency
 is sorely under-resourced. Other parts of the UN also need to increase
 their efforts and coordination on this issue, and we are pleased that
 this bill works towards that end."

The legislation will require reporting on what the U.S. and
 international organizations can do to assist countries to equitably resolve
 statelessness and on how the U.S. itself deals with stateless individuals
 given existing international conventions. U.S. representatives to the UN
 and international organizations must develop a comprehensive and
 coordinated approach to identifying and aiding stateless groups to attain
 their full human rights. Although UNICEF has worked to improve birth
 registration and UNHCR has markedly increased its efforts undertaken on
 behalf of the world's stateless people, this legislation would authorize
 additional resources to encourage more coordinated and effective efforts
 to prioritize the prevention and reduction of statelessness. The State
 Department's annual human rights report must also document conditions
 facing stateless people around the world.

Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that
 advocates to end refugee crises. The organization has been at the forefront
 of efforts to alert policy makers to the problem of statelessness and
 ultimately reduce the number of stateless people since the 2005
 publication of its landmark report, Lives on Hold: The Human Cost of
 Statelessness. Staff members have conducted missions to assess the situation for
 stateless people in Bangladesh, Syria, Kuwait, Dominican Republic,
 Kenya, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Malaysia,
 United Arab Emirates and Estonia. For more information, go to
 www.refugeesinternational.org/stateless.

###

Refugees International advocates for lifesaving assistance and
 protection for displaced people and promotes solutions to displacement crises.

20 held in detention camp riot, Makaysia


2008/06/26

Some of the illegal immigrants being rounded up by officers after the riot.
Some of the illegal immigrants being rounded up by officers after the riot.

 

KAJANG: Dissatisfied with cramped living conditions, about 1,600 illegal immigrants at the Semenyih detention camp rioted on Tuesday night.

The disturbances, which started at 11.30pm, saw about 500 personnel from the Federal Reserve Unit, Immigration Department, police and Rela deployed to quell the unrest.

The incident was allegedly sparked by several Iranian illegal immigrants who were being housed at the Block D hostel. Each block was only meant to accommodate 350 people, but up to 400 were housed there.

The riot resulted in gates being damaged and a wall brought down by the rioting immigrants. It is understood that four Iranian nationals were injured in the incident, while another 20 were arrested by police.

Authorities brought the situation under control by about 1.30am.
The 20 who were arrested have been taken to a holding depot at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Yesterday, about 900 illegal immigrants were transferred to various detention camps in Terengganu, Perak, Pahang, Kelantan and Malacca.

More than 30,000 Burmese Refugees Resettled



source from Irrawaddy news,  By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS / BANGKOK Wednesday, June 25, 2008<!– , –>

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More than 30,000 Burmese refugees living in camps in Thailand have been sent to third countries in what the United Nations said on Wednesday had become the world’s largest refugee resettlement operation.

Most of the refugees are ethnic Karen people who had been sheltered in nine refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that 30,144 refugees have left Thailand to start new lives abroad since the resettlement operation began in January 2005. But the camps remain home to 123,500 refugees and asylum-seekers.

“Some of the refugees have been here for nearly two decades,” UNHCR regional representative Raymond Hall said on Wednesday. “Some were born in refugee camps, grew up there and are now raising their own families in refugee camps. For them resettlement offers a way out of the camps and the opportunity for a fresh start in life.”

The UN and human rights groups say that over the years the Burmese army has burned villages, killed civilians and committed other atrocities against the Karen, who have long fought for autonomy from the central government.

Some activists have charged that Burma’s ruling junta is waging a genocidal campaign against the Karen and other rebel ethnic groups.

Hall said prospects for the refugees to return to Burma or settle permanently in Thailand were dim.

Nearly 21,500 of the resettled refugees have gone to the United States, while Australia has received 3,400 and Canada 2,600.

Other resettlement countries are Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Burmese refugees are now leaving Thailand for resettlement at an average rate of more than 300 a week, the UNHCR said.

 

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Speeches: Remarks at Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and Rule of Law


From: “U.S. Department of State” <usstatebpa@subscriptions.fcg.gov>
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2008 06:49:03 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Speeches: Remarks at Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and Rule of Law

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 23:00:00 -0500

Berlin, Germany
June 24, 2008SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much Frank-Walter, I’m really honored to represent the United States at this very important conference andobviously, the support for Palestinian institutions of security and justice is essential to achieving our vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
 

This is, indeed, an important conference as we move to try and achieve what we started at Annapolis. And I would first like to thank Chancellor Merkel for your initiative in putting this conference together and to Tony Blair for his leadership in co-hosting this important event. And thank you again, Frank, for the wonderful arrangements here in Germany.
 

The German people, the German government, the European Union, are all steadfast partners and good friends to the Palestinian people and the lead here in helping them to build honorable institutions, particularly security institutions, is greatly appreciated.
 

The EU has already provided valuable assistance to the Palestinian Authority’s civil police via EUPOL COPPS police training missions and we’re grateful to the EU’s commitment to expanding that.
 

I’d like to thank my colleague Tzipi Livni for being here, as well as other members of the Quartet. It’s good to see you here, Sergei. We all have a lot of work to do, but I think that we all should stay focused on the work to do. I know that there is a tendency sometimes toward pessimism in the ups and downs of the Middle East. There is always a question of whether it is time to do something in the Middle East, is the time right, is the situation not complicated? And my answer is always: when has the situation in the Middle East not been complicated? In fact, if we wait for an uncomplicated time, we will never achieve anything in the Middle East. And so, we need simply to work as hard as we possibly can.
 

I’d like to thank also, the members of the Arab League and Amr Moussa for being here, because the support of the regional states – of the Arab states – is essential to this process.
 

Security and the rule of law represent the foundations of any successful, responsible state, and such institutions will better enable the Palestinians to fight terrorism, maintain law and order, and provide opportunity for their people.
 

I’ve been very impressed by the efforts of President Mahmoud Abbas and especially the government of Salam Fayyad in their efforts to build the institutions of their Palestinian state even as an end to the occupation that began in 1967 and an end to the conflict are being negotiated.
 

The United States is committed to supporting these efforts to strengthen the security sector that the PA is undertaking. To date, we have invested $86 billion to train and equip the national security forces and the Presidential Guard, and we’ve requested $100 million more from Congress for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 to contribute to this program.
 

This training program has made the Palestinian security forces more willing and able to conduct security operations in the West Bank as we saw recently in successful Jenin operations. And this progress must be matched by similar improvements in civil police and criminal justice institutions. We’re pleased that the PA’s leadership recognizes the importance of coupling a strong security apparatus with transparent and fair institutions of governance.
 

Every link in what we call the chain of security must be intact and unbreakable. To feel invested in a future state, Palestinians must have confidence that their police, courts and penal system are dedicated to upholding the rule of law and respecting human rights. So it is especially important that the PA’s courts, prisons and police infrastructure, receive assistance to firmly establish civil institutions as the guardians of law and order.
 

The Palestinian Authority has put together a comprehensive list of projects that must be funded for the criminal justice sector to succeed. We urge the countries here to support and implement these projects as quickly as possible. Because of the interrelated nature of the criminal justice sector, it is crucial for the donor community to take on all the projects that the PA has identified. Neglecting any one could jeopardize the entire effort. We encourage donors to commit new pledges and to allocate uncommitted funds from existing pledges to support this effort.
 

Again, President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad and the Palestinian Authority are working courageously to build a functioning state, dedicated to peace and security, but they cannot succeed without the international community’s support. They cannot succeed without Israel’s cooperation.
 

Our commitments here in support of the Palestinian people and the rule of law will aid the emergence of a functioning Palestinian state. They will support conditions for economic growth and social progress. And ultimately, they will lay the foundation of a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. This is a peace that, frankly, has been too long in coming because the Palestinian people have waited too long for the state that will afford them the dignity that any people deserve, and the Israelis have waited too long for the security that a peaceful and democratic neighbor will bring them.
 

Thank you very much.
2008/T19-2

 

World Refugee Survey 2008 – Malaysia


 

 MYS figures

Introduction

Malaysia hosted nearly 70,000 refugees from Myanmar, including 25,000 ethnic Chin, 20,000 Mon, and 12,000 Rohingya, and other minorities. It also hosted about 70,000 Filipino Muslim refugees who fled the Moro insurgency in the 1970s.In October, 11 Thai Muslim refugees out of a group of 131 who fled to Malaysia in August 2005 returned to Thailand.

Refoulement/Physical Protection

Malaysia deported nearly 2,300 refugees and asylum seekers to Thailand, at least 14 of whom Thai authorities deported on to Myanmar. Myanmarese detained three of the deportees upon their arrival there. In deportations to Thailand, officials often gave advance notice to traffickers who kidnapped the deportees or bought them directly from immigration officials. Deportees reported that immigration officials received 900 ringgits (about $272) per person from traffickers. If they could afford it, deportees could bribe the traffickers to return them to Malaysia and one reported paying 1,800 ringgits (about $543). Traffickers often sold those not able to pay to Thai fishing boats, in the case of men, or brothels, in the case of women. The Government said these deportations were voluntary, but the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) could not always verify this and the harsh conditions in Malaysia’s detention facilities made it likely that not all were voluntary. In previous years, deportees who were able to return to Malaysia reported that Myanmarese officials detained them for up to five months, tortured them, and fined them from about 6,000 to 50,000 Myanmar kyats ($1,000 to $7,900).

The People’s Volunteer Corps (RELA) often injured refugees and migrants during raids, including one Myanmarese a RELA member blinded with a club.. Victims and rights groups accused RELA members of rapes, beatings, theft, destroying UNHCR identity documents, and other abuses. Members received a monthly stipend and an 80 ringgit ($24) bounty for every allegedly illegal migrant they arrested. Also, a bus taking 46 Myanmarese detainees to the border for deportation crashed in September, killing 5 detainees and the Malaysian bus driver, with 10 detainees suffering broken bones and others minor injuries.

 

The Government had no procedure for granting asylum or registering refugees. UNHCR handled all refugee status determinations in Malaysia and issued plastic, tamperproof cards to those it recognized as refugees. UNHCR gave Myanmarese Rohingyas temporary protection as a group, interviewing asylum seekers to establish their ethnicity.UNHCR performed individual status determinations for non-Rohingya asylum seekers under its mandate. Rohingya refugees UNHCR recognized prima facie were not eligible for resettlement. If the authorities arrested and detained them, UNHCR gave them full interviews and those that passed were eligible.As UNHCR had no presence at the border, most asylum seekers had to travel to Kuala Lumpur for determinations. UNHCR conducted mobile registration exercises in areas with high concentrations of refugees, but these did not meet the need.

 

In 2005, Malaysia issued between 32,000 and 35,000 IMM13 work permits to Acehnese refugees and migrants, which legalized their stay in the country. As the Government allowed the Acehnese community to handle the process instead of UNHCR, not all of the refugees recognized by UNHCR received the permits. Following the 2005 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Free Aceh Movement and the Indonesian Government, Acehnese refugees began returning. There was no formal process for doing so, and many had to purchase false passports to return. Around 27,000 of the Acehnese remained and had to renew their permits by late September 2007.The Government continued to permit 70,000 refugees from the Philippines’ Moro insurgency of the 1970s to remain in Sabah State. The Government did not grant them citizenship, however, rendering their children stateless.

Detention/Access to Courts

Throughout the year, Malaysia conducted raids and detained refugees and asylum seekers along with allegedly illegal migrants. At any given time, an average of 730 refugees and asylum seekers were in immigration detention. RELA conducted as many as 40 raids a night during the year, and through November it had detained more than 30,000 purportedly illegal immigrants, an increase from 25,000 in all of 2006. UNHCR managed to win the release of nearly 1,200 refugees and asylum seekers by the end of July.In late February and early March, Malaysia detained three refugee infants and five adults when the parents tried to register the births. In late March, authorities released a group of 25 refugees and asylum seekers, including 6 infants less than two months old and their mothers.In April, RELA raided a market in Kuala Lumpur and detained 33 refugees and asylum seekers from Myanmar for illegal entry or lack of documentation, although upon UNHCR’s intervention they released 2 mothers who were nursing infants the same day. On June 25, RELA launched a raid at 2 a..m. against the Chin Refugee Centre and two neighborhoods where Chin refugees lived, arresting nearly 230. Among the detainees were 30 children, 10 refugees slated for resettlement to the United States the next day, 5 pregnant women, and a Chin refugee leader. Malaysia released the Chin leader and the 10 refugees slated for resettlement, but transferred the rest to the Semenyih detention center.In early August, Malaysia detained 300 Rohingya refugees, including at least 150 recognized by UNHCR. In October, Malaysian authorities arrested 8 Chin women and 13 children after the vehicle they were traveling in was involved in an accident.Authoritie s continued to detain more than 120 Thai Muslims who entered in 2005. Unless UNHCR secured their release, Malaysia held detainees until they agreed to deportation: in most cases about six months, although Malaysia held some detainees for more than a year.In November, the Government announced it was transferring control of the immigration detention centers back to the Immigration Department and that RELA members would be staffing them until it could train full-time staff, perhaps for as long as two years.Detention centers for illegal immigrants remained overcrowded with poor sanitation, insufficient food and health services, and abusive guards. Detainees reported cells designed for 4 people held 15 to 20 and that staff gave them contaminated drinking water.UNHCR was usually able to access detention centers, and made several visits during the year. The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, a governmental body, was able to visit detention centers but needed Government approval. The Government did not generally permit the International Committee of the Red Cross, nongovernmental organizations, or the media to visit prisons or monitor conditions. Refugees could challenge their detention if they had legal representation. UNHCR provided refugees with volunteer lawyers but, as Malaysia had not ratified most relevant human rights accords, they rarely won. Authorities did not permit detainees to make phone calls upon arrest, so they generally had to bribe a police officer to be able to inform anyone of their arrest.Refugees with UNHCR cards were usually safe from arrest by regular police, although RELA still detained them. Police still arrested asylum seekers occasionally, as they did not always recognize the letters UNHCR issued asylum seekers. Refugees were subject to prosecution under the 1959 Immigration Act, which made no distinction between refugees and illegal immigrants. Amendments to the Immigration Act in 2002 provided for up to five years’ imprisonment, along with whipping up to six strokes, and fines of 10,000 ringgit ($3,020) for violations.The Federal Constitution extended its protections for individual liberty to all persons, but created an exception whereby the 24 hours allowed authorities to bring a detainee before a magistrate became two weeks in the case of an alien detained under the immigration laws.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

Refugees and asylum seekers recognized by UNHCR enjoyed some freedom of movement, although police sometimes held refugees with UNHCR cards until they paid bribes of 200 to 500 ringgits (about $60 to $145). Authorities arrested those without cards while they were moving about and during house-to-house or workplace raids.The Immigration Act prohibited renting housing to illegal migrants. Refugees resided illegally where they found jobs. Many Chin refugees lived in makeshift camps in the jungle, near construction sites or other places of employment. The law generally confined Filipino Muslim refugees to the designated area of Sabah.In March, the home minister called for the establishment of closed camps for refugees and for UNHCR to administer them..

Refugees did not receive international travel documents except for resettlement.

Right to Earn a Livelihood

Malaysia allowed Filipino Muslims in Sabah and Acehnese refugees to work, but not other groups.

In 2005, the Government issued between 32,000 and 35,000 IMM13 work permits to Acehnese migrants and refugees from Indonesia. The permits cost between 162 and 180 ringgit (about $47 and $52), were valid for two years, and were renewable. They did not permit the refugees to engage in trade but did allow them to work, attend school, and live in the country legally. The permits did not tie their bearers to single employers. In 2006, the Government began to issue IMM13 permits to Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, but stopped amid accusations of bribery and corruption in the issuing process. That left some 4,000 Rohingyas holding receipts proving they paid for IMM13 permits without the permits themselves.The Immigration Act penalized employers of illegal immigrants with fines of about 10,000 to 50,000 ringgits ($3,020 to $15,100) or, if they employed more than five, imprisonment from six months to five years and up to six cane strokes. Through July, Malaysia had caned 30 refugees and asylum seekers, an increase from 10 in all of 2006. In May, a restaurateur filed suit against RELA for corruption and abuse of power, alleging that a RELA member had detained four of his staff and demanded a bribe of 2,000 ringgit ($604) for their release.Many refugees worked in the informal sector without legal protection and in unsafe conditions. In January, a Chin refugee fell to his death on a construction site. Refugees had no access to workers’ compensation, and medical treatment for on the job injuries was at the discretion of the employer.Foreign workers with legal permits could join unions, but the permits of most foreign workers tied them to single employers, although this was not the case with the IMM13 permits given to Acehnese or Filipino refugees. Workers without legal status generally could not use the national system of labor adjudication. If employers dismissed foreign workers for any reason, they lost their permits, their legal right to remain in Malaysia, and their right to pursue legal action against abusive employers despite court requests that the Immigration Department grant them visas to do so.

Malaysia also did not allow refugees to hold title to or transfer business premises, farmland, homes, or other capital assets. The Federal Constitution offered most of its protections from arbitrary deprivation of property to all persons, but reserved protection against discrimination based on religion, race, descent, or place of birth in work, trade, professional, or property matters and the right to form associations to citizens.

Public Relief and Education

Malaysia did not provide primary education or free health services to most refugee children or asylum seekers not even those born in Malaysia. Although the IMM13 permits granted parents the right to send their children to public schools, the Government allowed them to attend only private schools.

Refugees with UNHCR documents received medical services at half price. Refugees and asylum seekers with HIV/AIDS received free treatment from the public health service. Other than this, authorities provided no medical care, public relief, rationing, or assistance, but did permit independent humanitarian agencies to assist refugees.Malaysia did not include refugees or asylum seekers in the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the country’s primary economic planning document, but it did include them in its National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS 2007-2010.

USCRI Reports

  • Malaysia Moves Forward on Legal Status for 10,000 Rohingya Refugees from Myanmar (Press Releases)
  • USCR Condemns Malaysia’s Arrest and Threat to Forcibly Return Acehnese Asylum Seekers (Press Releases)

Topics: Right to health, Right to education, Freedom of movement, Refugee identity documents, Rights of detainees, Prison conditions, Detention, Statelessness, Work permits, Acehnese, Refugee status determination, Group/prima facie determination, Temporary protection, Temporary protection, Illegal immigrants, Trafficking in persons, Deportation, Refoulement, Rohingya (Arakanese), Refugees, Asylum-seekers,

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