Sunday, November 7, 2010

Malaysia must stop criminalizing migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers

PLEASE participate in this action calling on the Malaysian government to protect migrant workers, who make up 25% of the Malaysian workforce. The physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse suffered by these people is horrible, and often includes torture. Amnesty International is calling on the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia to crack down on agencies in both countries that manipulate, exploit and abuse these workers and the employers who treat these people as slaves, or worse. Think about your family members being one of these migrants and click the header to participate.
Malaysia must stop criminalizing migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers
This is the story of a 22 year old ethnic Karen man from Myanmar.  He told Amnesty International the story of his detention in Lenggeng in Malaysia.  He was later sentenced by a judge to whipping and was sent to Kajang prison.  He has since been recognised as a refugee by the UNHCR, but not by the Malaysian government.
“I left Myanmar for Malaysia because of the military regime.  Once in Malaysia, I worked in many different places—in a paper factory, planting flowers, in a restaurant, an oil palm plantation and in a car wash where I as arrested during a RELA (volunteer immigration forces) raid.  That was in May 2008.
After my arrest, I spent three hours in a police station.  Then I was sent to the Lenggeng detention camp.
In Lenggeng, there were insects that bit us all the time.  They bit me all over.  No mattresses were provided; we slept on the wooden platforms.   We were only given a blanket and a mug.
After 15 days, I was sent to court.  I did not understand what was going on because there was no translator.  A Chin from Myanmar translated for me when I was questioned by the judge.
The judge asked where I was from, to which I replied.  He did not ask whether I was registered with the UNHCR or not.  When he asked why I had come to Malaysia, I said it was because of money.  When he told me to return to my country, I said I did not have a passport or any money that would allow me to return.  The judge then asked me if what I had done was “salah” (wrong), and I said yes.  I was sentenced to a month in jail and one strike of “rotan” (caning/whipping).
On the day I was whipped, they removed all my clothing except for a small piece of cloth to cover my penis.  It was like a trouser but with the buttocks area cut off.  They tied me up.  I was hit once very hard with a cane.  It cut my skin and hurt very much.  There was blood.  I could not wear any proper clothing for five days after the caning because of the pain and because it stuck to my cut.  I still have nightmares about it.  I cannot bear thinking about it.  I am very afraid that I may be whipped again if caught.”
After he served his sentence, he was deported to the Thai border, where he was trafficked back into Malaysia after paying the traffickers 2,200 ringgit (US$600).  At the time of the interview, he was working as an undocumented migrant in Malaysia.
Thank you for participating in this action. We really appreciate your help. Your letter was sent to the Malaysian Home Minister who is in charge of immigration into the country. Please invite others to take part in this action. If you have five more minutes, may we ask you to participate in two more web actions that are on the protection of migrants in Malaysia. Please follow the two links below. Your support means a lot to our campaign and to the people whose lives are at risk. To write to the Malaysian Prime Minister and ask him to protect all migrants in his country, please go to: To write to the Indonesian Minister for Transmigration and ask him to ensure that his government ensure the protection of Indonesians working in Malaysia (they are one of the largest sending countries of migrants), please go to: Again, thank you very much for your help.