Stop the Repatriation of the Sri Lankan Refugees Now!

SUARAM’s urgent appeal on the plight of Sri Lankan refugees who complain they are being illtreated by Malaysian officials is reproduced below. Sri Lanka’s government has been accused of grave war crimes and humanitarian abuses. Despite that, it appears that the Malaysian government is assisting fficials from the Sri Lankan High Commission repatriate ethnic minority Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka who fear for their lives at the hands of the Government of Sri Lanka. About 300,000 Tamils still live behind barbed wires in internment camps in Sri Lanka, unable to return to their homes since the end of the civil war earlier this year. Please respond to this urgent appeal by circulating the same, and sending the suggested letter of protest (at the end of the post) to the authorities.

SUARAM has received disturbing information that personnel from the Sri Lankan Embassy were at Pekan Nenas Immigration Detention Centre in Johor today. Four representatives from the Sri Lankan Embassy, including the Deputy High Commissioner, arrived at the detention centre at around 11.30am and they were forcing a group of Sri Lankan refugees to sign agreements for repatriation. The refugees refused to sign the agreements and the embassy personnel assaulted them by beating and kicking them to force them to sign the agreement.

The group being tortured by the Sri Lankan embassy personnel is part of a larger group of 108 Sri Lankan UNHCR recognised refugees detained at Pekan Nenas Immigration Detention Centre. Out of the 108 people, there are 10 women and 10 children. One of the women is in her 8th month of pregnancy.

One of the Sri Lankan women has been on a hunger strike since 13 October to protest her detention as a UNHCR cardholder. Today, another 9 women and 5 men will join her in the hunger strike.

The 108 refugees are part of 122 Sri Lankans who were arrested on 8 September 2009 at a hotel in Johor. The 108 refugees were sent to Pekan Nenas Immigration Detention Centre while the remaining 14 asylum seekers who did not have UNHCR cards were sent to Simpang Renggam Detention Centre. SUARAM has been told that the 122 Sri Lankans were initially living in Kuala Lumpur. They were approached by agents who promised them jobs in Johor Bahru in exchange for a fee.

In addition, SUARAM was informed that the Immigration Department denied SUHAKAM access into KLIA Immigration Detention Centre today. SUHAKAM was there to investigate into a complaint regarding the detention of 207 Sri Lankan asylum seekers and UNHCR recognised refugees.

SUARAM highly condemns the Sri Lankan Embassy for assaulting the refugees and forcing them to sign agreements for repatriation.

We also condemn the Malaysian Government for being an accomplice in the human rights violation by allowing the Sri Lankan Embassy to have access to UNHCR recognised refugees in the detention centre.

We demand that the Malaysian Government fully respects the international customary law of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of people to places where they may face persecution or threats to their life or freedoms.

We demand that the 108 Sri Lankan refugees and all other UNHCR recognised refugees are released into UNHCR’s official care immediately. We also call upon the Malaysian Government to ensure that that all law enforcement agencies (in particular RELA, Police and Immigration) respect UNHCR documents and refrain from arresting holders of these documents.

Finally, we call upon the Immigration Department to allow SUHAKAM and UNHCR free and full access to immigration detention centres.

Released by,

Temme Lee, Coordinator

Urgent action needed:

Please write protest letters to the government and the police to express your strongest condemnation of the mistreatment of refugees. Please also demand the Malaysian Government to stop the repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees.

Please call and send your protest letters to:

Pekan Nanas Immigration Detention Depot

Pekan Nanas,

81500 Pontian, Johor

Tel : +607-6993577

Faks : +607-6993588

Dato’ Abdul Rahman bin Othman

Director-General of Immigration Department,

Director-General’s Office,
Immigration Department of Malaysia Headquarters,

Level 7 (Podium),
No 15, Persiaran Perdana, Presint 2,
62550 Putrajaya,

Malaysia
Tel: +603-88801005

Fax: +603-88801201

E-Mail: [email protected]

Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Prime Minister’s Office,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building ,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya , MALAYSIA
Tel : 603-8888 8000
Fax : 603-8888 3444
E-Mail: [email protected].my

SAMPLE LETTER


[Letterhead of your organisation]

Dato’ Abdul Rahman bin Othman

Director-General of Immigration Department,

Director-General’s Office,
Immigration Department of Malaysia Headquarters,

Level 7 (Podium),
No 15, Persiaran Perdana, Presint 2,
62550 Putrajaya,

Malaysia
Tel: +603-88801005

Fax: +603-88801201

E-Mail: [email protected]


Dear Sir,

RE: Stop the Repatriation of the Sri Lankan Refugees Now

We are writing to you to express our outrage and our strongest condemnation over your government’s treatment of Sri Lankan refugees in Malaysia.

We are appalled by your government and the Immigration Department’s latest action to allow the Sri Lankan Embassy to access Sri Lankan refugees that are detained at your detention centres. This is an outright violation of the right to seek asylum as enshrined under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is also an outright violation of the international customary law of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of people to places where they may face persecution or threats to their life or freedoms

We demand that the 108 Sri Lankan refugees detained at Pekan Nanas Immigration Detention Centre are released immediately into the custody of UNHCR. We demand that UNHCR is given immediate and free access to register the remaining 14 asylum seekers detained at Simpang Renggam.

We demand that the Malaysian Government take measures protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who are currently in Malaysia and fully respect the principle of non-refoulement, as recommended by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), two UN Conventions of which Malaysia is party to.

We strongly urge you, once again, to stop bringing shame to Malaysia and to ratify 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]

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Shanmuga K sometimes sees a purple banana emerging in his sub-conscious. An article seems to then be magically written. He is @shanmuga_k on Twitter. When he does not see those purple bananas, he practices as a lawyer at www.kanesalingam.com

Posted on 21 October 2009. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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One Response to Stop the Repatriation of the Sri Lankan Refugees Now!

  1. malaysian

    Does anyone think that sending letters to those morons in putra jaya is going to stop what they are doing???

    For UMNO as long it is a non muslims issue they dont giv a fuck.

    Even today i read in "thestar.com" that najib is going to talk to thai PM about the muslims in south thailand. So whats the difference between the south thailand freedom fighters n tamil freedom fighters? One is muslim and the other is non muslim.

    And another thing that i dun understand is … why on earth do these people come to malaysia of all the country in the world? Malaysia should be the last country..as ther is no freedom, no equality no shit!!!