CHRO

 

 

Chin Human Rights Organization

2930 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 200-36, Berkeley, California, US 94705

Tel: +1.510.332.0983

www.chro.org

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: Amy Alexander

Regional Advocacy and Campaigns Officer

[email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Tel: +66.85.23.02.609

 

RELA BURNS DOWN REFUGEE SHELTERS IN MALAYSIA

 

25 January 2008

 

Putra Jaya, Malaysia: At least 75 Zomi refugees and asylum seekers originally from Chin State, Burma are now homeless and distraught after government-authorized forces in Malaysia burned down their jungle shelters earlier this week in Putra Jaya. This is the latest of many well-documented acts of abuse committed by the authorities against the refugee community in Malaysia.

 

The raid began around 7 am on 20 January when more than 30 RELA members violently stormed the make-shift campsite and burned it to the ground. The material possessions of the camp residents- plastic sheeting for shelter, pots and pans for cooking, donated articles of clothing and food rations, and Christian Bibles- were reduced to ashes. For a community already living on the margins of survival, the consequences are devastating.

 

“Nothing is left for any of them. Nobody knows what they should do, where they should go for shelter, how they can overcome this…They are left with nothing,” reported one Zomi Chin leader who recently visited the residents and their burned out campsite.

 

For years, the refugees and asylum seekers from Burma have taken shelter in the jungles surrounding Kuala Lumpur to escape the harassment and abuse by RELA security forces. Night-time neighborhood raids occur regularly in Kuala Lumpur’s urban areas. Although in hiding, the communities living in the jungle are not immune to such abuses. Over the course of four years, the camp in Putra Jaya had been raided three times by RELA.

 

According to the camp leader, “None of the raids in the past compare to this. We are empty-handed now. We lost everything- no cooking pots, no food, no clothes, no hope.”

 

The raid was conducted by Malaysia’s controversial RELA or the People’s Volunteer Corps, an untrained, volunteer civilian unit with security enforcement powers. RELA has come under increasing criticism by members of the international community and human rights organizations for reckless conduct and abusive actions during raids. Despite such criticism, RELA is slated to take over all of Malaysia’s immigration facilities during this next year. The transition of authority has already started in some facilities, raising concerns among the refugee community who fear the takeover will lead to increased abuses with greater impunity.

 

BACKGROUND

 

Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes in Chin State, Burma to escape severe ethnic and religious persecution committed by the military regime of Burma. They arrive in Malaysia in search of some sense of security. Currently, there are over 23,000 asylum seekers and refugees from Burma’s Chin State living in Malaysia. Instead of finding safety, they are the constant target of harassment, arrest, detention, and deportation by the Malaysian authorities. In addition, they are unable to work, receive an education, access healthcare services, or find acceptable living accommodations. With the UNHCR general registration process closed since July 2005, obtaining refugee status or any protective documents from the UNHCR is difficult. As a result, life for the refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia is full of abuses and uncertainties.

 

For more information, please visit Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) on the web at www.chro.org or contact Amy Alexander at [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or +66.85.230.2609.

 

For Immediate Release

 

6 March 2008

New Delhi

 

Asylum Seeking Mother and Children at Risk

 

Starting from 26 January 2008 , a Burmese Chin women asylum seeker and her three minor children have been staging a sit-in demonstration in front the UNHCR office in New Delhi , after they were made homeless following eviction by their landlord.

 

Far Hniang (30), a single mother of three children, Jaremiah (12), Dawt Tha (8) and Ca Dawt Iang (3 months) have been camping out in front of UNHCR office for six weeks now without proper food and shelter. Abandoned by her husband, Far Hniang’s application for refugee status remains unprocessed for over a year.

 

“We come to seek the attention and sympathy for our plight as we have no other place to live and no food to eat. We are destitute without the help of UNHCR. We have no choice but to remain here until we die,” pleaded Far Hniang.

 

Chin Human Rights Organization is highly concerned for the safety and well-being of the family especially in light of the fact that Far Hniang is still a nursing mother and one of her children is barely three months old. CHRO calls on the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to urgently respond to their needs. Any further delay could put them into serious jeopardy.

 

Having gone without proper food for over six weeks, on 5 March, Far Hniang was rushed to a nearby local hospital after collapsing from physical weakness. UNHCR office has not intervened as of today.

 

Ms. Far Hniang’s family fled to New Delhi in November 2006 from Zephai village of Than Tlang Township , Chin state of Burma , in search of safety. Their application for refugee status with UN refugee agency remains pending to this date.

 

Similarly, due to lengthy delay in registration and processing by UNHCR many Chin asylum seekers are facing a host of problems including lack of food and shelter, healthcare and education for their children.

 

For more information please contact:

 

Plato Van Rung Mang, CHRO Delhi Office assistant in-charge at + 91-11-25617368

Or visit www.chro.org for background information on Chin refugees in India

 

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To protect and promote human rights and democratic principles