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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2402

Burma – New report details deprivation and abuse facing Burmese refugees in Malaysia

London, 26 February, (Asiantribune.com): Burmese refugees in Malaysia are living in "severe and desperate poverty and deprivation", and face exploitation, abuse and "the widespread risk of arrest, detention, severe mistreatment including caning, and subsequent deportation by the Malaysian authorities", according to a new report released by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) today.

CSW representatives returned last week from a fact-finding visit to Malaysia and the Thailand-Burma border with first-hand testimonies of forced labor, rape, torture, land confiscation and religious persecution. The delegation met Burmese refugees from several ethnic groups in Malaysia, and visited Internally Displaced People inside Burma and Karen refugees in Thailand. CSW interviewed Kachin civil society groups and Burmese Buddhist monks who had fled the regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests in September last year. The delegation also met with Padoh Mahn Sha Hla Phan, General Secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU), three days before he was assassinated by gunmen believed to be acting under orders from Burma’s military regime.

The report calls on the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit Burma “as a matter of urgency”, and echoes calls made by nine Nobel Peace Prize Recipients last week for a universal arms embargo on Burma. CSW also calls for the UN Security Council to refer the Burmese junta to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into crimes against humanity, and urges the international community to impose targeted banking sanctions on members of the military regime.

CSW also calls on the Malaysian Government to improve the situation for Burmese refugees within their borders by stopping authorities from detaining, caning and deporting Burmese asylum-seekers and refugees, and disbanding RELA, the officially-sponsored vigilante force often used to raid refugees’ camps, homes and workplaces. CSW urges the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to register all Burmese asylum-seekers in Malaysia, in order to provide better protection for them, and calls on more countries to offer opportunities for resettlement for Burmese refugees in Malaysia.

CSW’s Advocacy Officer for South Asia, Benedict Rogers, said: “This report documents yet more evidence of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the military regime in Burma against its own people. It also draws much-needed attention to the long-forgotten desperate plight of Burmese refugees who have fled to Malaysia in search of sanctuary and freedom, and have found yet more abuse, poverty and misery. The international community cannot continue to allow the terrible suffering of Burmese people to go on. How many more cries for help do we need before the world unites in meaningful action to end the reign of terror in Burma?”

- Asian Tribune -

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