Friday, April 2, 2010

Suaram calls for release of Sri Lankan refugees

By Marc Jitab

KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) is urging members of the public to send protest letters to the government in relation to the detention of 45 Sri Lankan refugees.
Suaram chairman K Arumugam said the detainees are being held at the Langkap detention centre in Perak.
He said they were detained despite having valid refugee visas issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“We are appealing for their release. They should have been sent to the UNHCR because they have valid visas.
“We are appealing to the public to submit protest letters to the government... foreign non-governmental organisations have already submitted such letters to the government demanding the release of the 45 Sri Lankans,” he said.
Arumugam said that refugees come to Malaysian shores for various reasons, including fleeing the conflict in Sri Lanka.
“As far as we are concerned, we see them as asylum-seekers and should be treated as such, pending UNHCR's approval to categorise them as refugees.
“In this instance, these Sri Lankans are Tamils, and the sentiment in their home country is anti-Tamil.
“These people have serious security concerns, and we must not send them back to their home country because of these risks,” Arumugam said.