6 April 2007: CHRO joins the Malaysian Parliamentary Caucus for Democracy in Burma in their call for the Malaysian government to take immediate action in the case of Dally Sui and to protect all Burmese children living in Malaysia. As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Malaysia has a responsibility to uphold and ensure the rights of all children, including refugee and undocumented children, are protected.
THE CASE OF DALLY SUI
Dally Sui is seven year old Chin girl who was abducted on 20 March. Her body was later found with her hands severed at the wrist on 27 March. Dally Sui and her family fled Burma, and had been living in Malaysia as refugees since 2002. She went missing the day before she and her family were scheduled to leave Malaysia to be resettled to the United States.
After becoming aware that Dally Sui had disappeared, her parents immediately filed a missing persons report with the police. As the hours turned into days and the search for Dally Sui spread throughout the Chin community in Kuala Lumpur, the police did little to help. Despite repeated requests for their involvement, the authorities failed to take exert the effort even to simply speak to the distraught parents or interview the neighbors In the end, Dally Sui was found dead with her body dumped in some undergrowth just 4 kilometers from her parent’s house. Her hands remain unaccounted for and her killer has still not been identified by the authorities. Her parent’s must now face leaving for the United States without receiving answers about the death of their little girl.
REFUGEE CHILDREN IN MALAYSIA
The case of Dally Sui reflects a larger problem for the Chin population living in Malaysia – the lack of adequate protection for the most vulnerable members of their community. Not only are refugee and undocumented migrant children unprotected by Malaysian authorities, but they are also at constant risk of being arrested, detained, and deported at the hands of the Malaysian authorities.
Currently there are over 500 Chin children living in Malaysia. Like Dally Sui, most are afraid or prohibited by their parents from leaving their family’s homes for fear that they will be arrested. Refugees and undocumented children are not allowed to attend school in Malaysia. As a result, many Chin children spend their days indoors unable to experience childhood in a safe and supportive environment.
ARREST AND DETENTION OF CHILDREN IN MALAYSIA
Despite their obligations to refrain from arbitrarily depriving a child of his or her liberty under Article 37(b) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Malaysian authorities are constantly responsible for the unwarranted arrest and detention of children. Currently there are about 20 Chin children, as young as less than a month old, detained in Malaysian detention facilities.
On the very day that Dally Sui went missing, immigration officers raided the home of Uk Nawl and Biak Thluai and took into custody their two children Ngun Za Tial (age 12) and Bawi Lian Thang (age 10). Both parents are UNHCR recognized refugees and their children were scheduled to be interviewed for resettlement to the United States on the following morning. They are still being detained at Semenyih camp. The youngest child has reportedly fallen sick.
Even more disconcerting is the recent spate of arrests of newborn babies. One month ago, the Malaysian authorities arrested and detained several newborn refugee babies when their parent’s attempted to register the child’s birth with the immigration office. Despite the fact that in each case at least one birth parent had received UNHCR refugee recognition, the Malaysian authorities took into their custody a two week old baby on 21 February, a one day old baby on 6 March, and another newborn baby on 7 March. These actions jeopardize the right of a child to be registered at birth as accorded by Article 7 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.
ARREST AND DETENTION OF PREGNANT WOMEN AND NURSING MOTHERS
Correlated to the obligation to adequately protect children, the Malaysian government also has a corresponding duty to protect pregnant women and new mothers not only under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child but also under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which Malaysia is also a signatory to. Malaysia, however, has consistently failed to uphold their commitments under international law.
As recently as yesterday, with the Chin community still in mourning over the loss of Dally Sui, RELA officers raided the Pudu market in downtown Kuala Lumpur and arrested two nursing mothers, separating them from their newborn babies. The mothers, Bawi Sung, whose baby is 3 months old, and Hniang Zitial, whose baby is 1 month old, are both UNHCR recognized refugees. After repeated cries for mercy, both mothers were later released late in the evening.
Pregnant women are also frequently caught up in the RELA raids and forced to deliver their babies in squalid detention facilities. One Chin woman described to CHRO how she was six and a half months pregnant when she was arrested by RELA officers in Kuala Lumpur on 5 October 2006. During the arrest and her time in detention, she was kicked, hit on the forehead with a baton, repeatedly forced to strip naked and sit with her legs spread, had her nipples pinched by guards, endured constant verbal abuse, and was provided with inadequate sustenance. She later gave birth in detention on 20 December while chained to a bed. She was eventually released on 21 January 2007 after intervention from the UNHCR.
The abuses described above have gone on for too long. It is time for the Malaysian government to live up to its commitments under international law and provide adequate protection to all the children living within its borders. CHRO calls on the Malaysian government to:
· Conduct a proper investigation into the disappearance and death of seven year old Dally Sui and to ensure such acts of violence are not committed with impunity.
· 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.
· Stop the arrest and detention of refugee children and their mothers.
· Immediately and unconditionally release refugee children and their parents in government custody.
· Cooperate with and recognize the powers of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in protecting the inherent rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
CALL FOR ACTION
To join Malaysian Parliamentary Caucus for Democracy in Burma and CHRO in their call for the protection of refugee and undocumented children in Malaysia, please write or contact the Malaysian Home Affairs Ministry at:
Ministry of Home Affairs
Royal Malaysian Police
Cawangan Perhubungan Awam
Polis Diraja Malaysia
Ibu Pejabat Polis Bukit Aman
50560 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: (60) 3-2262 6310; Fax: (60) 3-2272-2710;