9 November 2007
Kelantan State, Malaysia: CHRO recently received information that eight Chin women and 13 Chin children have been arrested and detained by immigration authorities in Malaysia’s Kelantan State on 29 October 2007. At least five of the children are under the age of 4.The arrests took place shortly after the van the women and children were riding in was involved in a serious traffic accident. They are currently being held in Tanah Merah Immigration Detention Camp near Pasir Mas.
This most recent arrest occurred on 29 October 2007 as the Chin women and children were traveling through Kelantan State heading to join their families in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia’s capital city. On the journey to KL the van, in which the Chin women and children were passengers, ran off the road and slammed into a large tree. Five of the passengers were seriously injured in the accident, including four minors. Meanwhile, the driver of the van fled the scene of the accident.
Following the accident, the immigration authorities arrived and immediately took into custody all 21 Chin passengers for failing to have proper immigration documents. In fact, the women and children were traveling to KL to join family members, who are recognized refugees expecting to be resettled to a third country. Although United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been informed of the situation, they have indicated that they cannot intervene on behalf of the arrested women and children because they are not yet formally registered with the UN.
Commenting on the predicament, a representative of the Chin Refugee Center, a community-based organization in KL, said, “Now we have to try to do whatever we can do for our community members since the UN will not get involved. We must find a way to protect our women and children. Immigration detention is no place for a child.”
Currently all 21 women and children are being held in Tanah Merah Immigration Detention Camp located in Pasir Mas in Kelantan. Three of the passengers who were injured in the accident were taken to the hospital for treatment. One girl, age 13, suffered a broken thigh while her mother had to have glass shards removed from her head. After their release from the hospital, they were returned to immigration custody.
LACK OF PROTECTION FOR CHIN WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN MALAYSIA
CHRO is concerned by Malaysia’s consistent disregard for the rights and protections of Chin women and children living in Malaysia. Currently there are about 70 Chin women and children being held in immigration detention facilities throughout Malaysia. Pregnant women and very young children are not immune and many young mothers have been forced to give birth and nurse their newborns while under immigration custody. Chin women and children in Malaysia, including those with UNHCR documents, are at constant risk of being arrested, detained, and deported at the hands of the Malaysian authorities.
Under Article 27(b) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Malaysia is a signatory, Malaysia is responsible for protecting children from being arbitrarily deprived of his/her liberty. Malaysia has also agreed to abide by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. By continuing to arrest and detain Chin women and children, Malaysia has failed to uphold their commitments under international law.
CALL TO ACTION
CHRO calls on the Malaysian government to respect and uphold its international legal obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Please join CHRO in their demands to the Malaysian government to:
· Respect and protect the rights of Chin women and children living within Malaysia’s borders;
· Stop the arrest and detention of Chin women and children; and
· Immediately and unconditionally release all Chin women and children currently being held in its immigration detention facilities, including the 21 most recent arrestees being held in Kelantan;
Please direct your communications and concerns to:
Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad
Minister of Home Affairs
Level 12, Block D1, Parcel D,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
Tuan HJ. Wahid Bin MD Don, Director-General of Immigration Department
Director General Office
Immigration Department of Malaysia ,
Level 1-7 (Podium) Block 2G-4, Precint 2,
Federal Government Administration Centre,
Tel: +60 3 8880 1000
Fax: +60 3 8880 1200
Encik Che Baharom Bin Hamzah
Director of State Immigration
Malik Zaliman Bin Deraman
State Immigration Enforcement Officer
Tel: ( 609 ) 7475735
Fax: ( 609 ) 7434608