Friday, May 22, 2009

Joint Statement by 113 Organisations about Death of 2 Burmese from Juru Detention Centre because of LEPTOSPIROSIS

Joint Statement - 23/5/2009



We, the undersigned, are alarmed to hear that Sa La Hin, 26, and Thang Hoih Ping, 21, two Burmese migrants, have died in the Malaysia’s Juru Immigration Detention Centre from Leptospirosis. This is disease that is usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals, such as rodents, cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and wild animals. The fact, that 2 persons are dead and others have been infected by this disease, again highlights the state of hygiene, cleanliness and healthcare at Malaysian Detention Centres.

We recall that it was reported in the media in December 2008, that "About 1,300 illegal foreigners have died during detention in the past six years, Malaysia Nanban quoted Malaysian Human Rights (Suhakam) commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam as saying. He said many of them died in immigration detention centres, prisons and police lockups because they were denied medical treatment at the right time.” [Star, 18/12/2008, ‘1,300 foreign detainees died due to neglect’]. Now, Sa La Hin and Thang Hoih Ping may just be the latest additions to that list of detainees that died due to similar reasons.

We also recall the words of SUHAKAM in their response to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) dated 13/1/2009, that correctly stated that ‘…SUHAKAM views the denial of medical attention to the point of endangering one’s life as a serious violation of that person’s right to life….’

These deaths may have been avoided if medical attention was provided promptly, and we call for an independent public inquiry to determine whether there was such negligence on the part of the Ikatan Relawan Rakyat or better known as RELA (a People's Volunteer Corps), and the Immigration officers, who are currently responsible for Immigration Detention Centres in Malaysia.

We do appreciate the fact that the Director General of Immigration has now decided that ‘cleanliness and hygiene at immigration depots nationwide are to be stepped-up to ensure safety of staff and inmates there against contracting infectious diseases’ (Bernama, 19/5/2009, Cleanliness, Hygiene at Immigration Depot to Be Stepped Up).

We hope that this is not merely a knee-jerk response, which is temporary in nature, but a new and permanent commitment by Malaysia to improve standards and conditions of Detention Centres and other places of detention.

The current once a week visit by a medical officer to the Detention Centres is certainly inadequate. There should be, at the very least, a permanent clinic/dispensary manned by a medical assistant, with a doctor visiting detainees for several hours at least once every two days or more frequently.

New users of the Detention facility should also be determined free from easily transmittable diseases like Tuberculosis and the A(H1N1) flu before being introduced to the general population of detention places.

There should also be regular visits by the Health Officer, who shall monitor the conditions, including of the living and sleeping environment, of the Detention Centre to ensure that it meets the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness.

The foods, and all aspects of food preparation, also need to be monitored by the Health Department especially since there is a possibility that the fault in the recent deaths could be the current caterer of food and drink.

With regard to those who have died, we are of the opinion that their family and/or dependents should be given adequate compensation by the persons responsible, the detaining authority and the Malaysian government.

Officers and persons responsible for the acts or omissions that resulted in death and suffering should be charged and prosecuted for these crimes. They should not be permitted to hide behind safeguards provided to public servants and/or the RELA volunteers, which unfortunately only promotes culture of impunity with no sense of responsibility and respect for human life.

We, the undersigned, call on the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) to immediately commence a public inquiry into these deaths and detention places generally, and come up with concrete recommendations which could be implemented that will improve state of cleanliness, hygiene and healthcare of all detention places in Malaysia.

We are also call upon the Ministry of Health and the government of Malaysia to take necessary steps to ensure that proper steps be taken to ensure that such disregard for life does not happen again.

We reiterate the call for the abolition of RELA, and restate our position that law enforcement, and management of detention places should be done by professionally trained full-time public servants, not volunteers.

Charles Hector
Pranom Somwong

For and on behalf of the 113 organizations/groups listed below:-

Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE), Inc, Philippines
Action Network for Migrants (ANM), Thailand
All Women's Action Society (AWAM), Malaysia
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), Hong Kong
Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Link (APWSL), Korea
Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body - Hong Kong (AMCB-HK)
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)-AAPP
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Bar Council Human Rights Committee, Malaysia
Bar Council's Legal Aid Centre, Malaysia
Building and Wood Workers International, Asia Pacific Regional Office
Burma Campaign Australia
Burma Campaign, Malaysia
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Centre Delhi (BCD)
Burma's Nationalities Association (BNA)- Norway
Burma Partnership
Cambodian Women's Crisis Center
Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB)
CDS (Community Development Services), Sri Lanka
Center for Migrant Advocacy, Philippines
Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Malaysia
Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS), Malaysia
Chin Human Rights Organization
Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLGCSC)
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (USA)
Commission For Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) - The Netherlands
Committee for Asian Women (CAW)
Coordination of Action Research on AIDS & Mobility (CARAM -Asia)
Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), Burma
Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), Philippines
Empower Foundation, Thailand
Ethnic Nationalities Council
FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights
Filipino Migrant Workers' Union - Hong Kong (FMWU)
Forum for Democracy in Burma
Foundation for Education and Development (Formerly, Grassroots HRE (Burma)
Free Burma Coalition - Philippines (FBC-Phils)
Free Burma Campaign, South Africa
Friends of Burma, Malaysia
Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)
HAKAM - National Human Rights Society, Malaysia
Health Equity Initiatives, Malaysia
H.O.M.E. (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics), Singapore
Hope Workers’ Center, Taiwan
HRWG - Indonesia's NGO Coalition for International Advocacy
Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and New Immigrants Service Center, Taiwan
IMPARSIAL, the Indonesia Human Rights Monitor, Jakarta – Indonesia
INFID (International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
Kachin Women's Association Thailand
KAFIN Migrant Center, Japan
KAFIN - Saitama, Japan
Kayan National Development Foundation (KNDF)
Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human rights Organisation (KKKHRO), Cambodia
Labornet Korea
Labour Resource Centre, Malaysia
Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia
LHRLA (Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid), Pakistan
MADPET (Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture)
Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)
Mekong Migration Network (MMN)
Migrant CARE, Perhimpunan Indonesia untuk Buruh Migran Berdaulat
Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)
MIGRANTE Middle East
MIGRANTE International
Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions, Inc. (MMCEAI)
Myanmar Ethnic Rohingyas Human Rights Organization Malaysia (MERHROM)
National Democratic Party for Human Rights(NDPHR)(exile),SEA Regional Office
National League for Democracy [NLD (LA)], Malaysia
National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI), Malaysia
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, U.S.
Network for Democracy and Development, Thailand
Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
New Zealand Burma Support Group
NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
OKUP (Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program), Bangladesh
Osan Migrant Workers Center in South Korea
Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF)
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)
Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)
Peoples Service Organization (PSO), Malaysia
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangot (EMPOWER)
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS), Malaysia
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor
Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe - The Netherlands
Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia
Raks Thai Foundation, Thailand
Rohingya Youth Development Forum (RYDF), Malaysia
Shan Refugee Organization Malaysia (SRO)
Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN)
Shwe Gas Movement
St. John's Cathedral HIV Education Centre, Hong Kong
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Tenaganita, Malaysia
The Foundation for the Health and Knowledge of Ethnic Labour (MAP)
The Justice, Peace & Solidarity in Mission Office, The Good Shepherd Sisters
The Micah Mandate
Transient Workers Count Too, Singapore
United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
U.S. Campaign for Burma
WARBE Development Foundation - Bangladesh
Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), Malaysia
Women's League of Burma
Workers Hub for Change (WH4C)

* For further information, please contact Charles Hector ( or Pranom Somwong (Bee) ( at 019-2371 300

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Withdraw Absurd Charges Against Aung San Suu Kyi

Media Statement – 16/5/2009



We, the undersigned, are shocked that Aung San Suu Kyi has now been absurdly charged for the offence of breaking the terms of her house arrest, in particular the condition that forbids visitors, after an American man, swam across the lake and entered her house uninvited and refused to leave.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her two assistants were reported to have been charged on 14/5/2009 with breach of detention under Section 22 of the Law Safeguarding the State from the Dangers of Subversive Elements, and their trial is scheduled to begin on Monday (18/5/2009) in an Insein Prison special court set up to handle political dissidents.

American, John William Yettaw, 53, of Falcon, Missouri swam across Inya Lake on the night of May 3 and left the compound early on the night of May 5, swimming a distance of about 2 kilometers. Authorities arrested him later that morning.

In Burma , it is also against the law for a foreigner to stay in the home of a Burmese citizen overnight without approval from authorities.

Dr. Tin Myo Win, Suu Kyi’s family physician, also will allegedly be charged in connection with Yettaw’s staying in Suu Kyi’s compound overnight. Yettaw himself is also expected to be charged, presumably for violating one of Burma ’s internal security laws.

Aung San Suu Kyi and her two assistants, have been taken from her home and is currently being detained in the infamous Insein Prison since 14/5/2009.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, 63, the leader of the National League for Democracy(NLD), has spent 13 of the past 19 years in virtual isolation in her home since the Burmese military junta refused to recognise NLD's landslide victory in the country's last elections in 1990.

The most recent, six-year period of detention is due to end on May 27. The junta’s justification for keeping her locked away under the provisions of this draconian 1975 national security law was to protect the state from "destructive elements". Many speculate that this recent incident was created or being manipulated to discredit Suu Kyi and provide justification for the military government to extend her house arrest again.

We call for the immediate withdrawal of this absurd charge levied against Aung San Suu Kyi, and her 2 assistants;

We also call for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Burma ;

We call for ASEAN and ASEAN member governments, including Malaysia, to immediately intervene and urge the government of Burma to respect human rights, and to adhere to the numerous United Nations resolutions, including General Assembly Resolution 49/197 [1995], which, amongst others, “…call on the Government of Myanmar to release unconditionally and immediately the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now in her sixth year of detention without trial, and other political leaders and remaining political prisoners…’

We also call on the United Nations(UN), the European Union(EU) and all concerned nations to act for the immediate withdrawal of this absurd charge, to secure the immediate and unconditional release of all political detainees and to restore democracy and human rights to Burma and its peoples.

Charles Hector

Pranom Somwong

for and on behalf of the following 22 organisations,

All Women's Action Society (AWAM)

Amnesty Malaysia

Burma Campaign , Malaysia

Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLGCSC)

Coordination of Action Research on AIDS & Mobility (CARAM-ASIA )

Friends of Burma , Malaysia

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)

Migration Working Group (MWG)

Myanmar Refugee Volunteer Group (MRVG)

National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPHR-Exile) Malaysia

National Institute for Electoral Intergrity (NIEI)

Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)

Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)

Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS), Malaysia

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)


Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)


Workers Hub For Change (WH4C)

Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When Burmese run for their lives and liberty to Malaysia...

When Burmese run for their lives and liberty to Malaysia away from a universally accepted evil military regime in Burma, Malaysian government 'crackdown' on them, arrest, detain and deport...Some even get whipped...
KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 (Bernama) -- Eighty-three illegal immigrants, including 14 women, were arrested in an anti-crime operation in the vicinity of the Selayang wholesale market here last night.

Some even climbed up rooftops to evade arrest, but to no avail. Most of them were vegetable sellers at the market

Sentul OCPD ACP Zakaria Pagan said the illegal immigrants -- 81 Myanmars and two Indonesians -- were arrested after they failed to produce their travel documents.

Police had to break into several houses occupied the illegal immigrants when they refused to cooperate, he told reporters at the Jinjang police station.

He said that that massive operation focused on the vicinity of the wholesale market because it had been identified as the main contributor to the spike in the crime rate in the district.

He said police would take stern action against those who employed illegal immigrants and refused to cooperate to ensure that their business sites were free of illegal immigrants.

He said there were an estimated 2,000 foreigners, mostly Myanmars, living in the area.

A total of 150 policemen, immigration officers and Rela members took part in the four-hour operation which began at 11pm.

-- BERNAMA, 13/5/2009,
83 Illegal Immigrants Arrested

Monday, May 11, 2009


Media Statement – 14/3/ 2009


We, the undersigned organizations, groups and networks, concerned about migrant and worker rights, are appalled at Malaysia’s unjust, discriminatory and unconstitutional anti-worker policy, known as ‘Foreign Workers First Out’ (FWFO) policy when it comes to retrenchment.

A recent Malaysian newspaper report read,“…Employers must retrench their foreign workers ahead of their Malaysian staff as they seek to weather the current economic slowdown, said Deputy Human Resource Minister Datuk Noraini Ahmad. She reiterated that employers should adopt the Government’s foreign worker first out (FWFO) principle…”(Star, 28/2/2009 - Retrench foreign workers first, employers told)

Whilst appreciating Malaysia’s concern for its own citizens’ employment, this should never excuse employers from fulfilling their contractual obligations to workers.

It is very wrong for the Malaysian government to compel/encourage employers in Malaysia to retrench their foreign workers first, before the expiration of the agreed duration of employment. Employers should have been fully aware of risks of economic crisis and other business risks, and as such there is no justification whatsoever of their breaching their employment agreements now.

It must also be appreciated that foreign workers do expend lots of monies, incur debts and make great sacrifices when they do decide to come over to Malaysia to work. These workers rely heavily on the representations of the employers and/or their agents especially with regards to wages and the length of period that they will be employed, before deciding to enter into employment agreements and coming over to Malaysia to work.

Employment agreements with migrant workers are usually for a period of 3 to 5 years, and it would be a great injustice if Malaysian employers are now encouraged and permitted to prematurely terminate this employment agreement, and send these foreign workers back to their home country.

Early termination of employment agreements for many a migrant worker means ending up in a far worse condition than when they first entered into employment agreements to come and work in Malaysia. This is a great injustice, and it is inhumane.

If there is going to be early termination of employment agreements which are for a minimum fixed period of employment, then the worker must be paid adequate compensation, at the very least basic wages for the remaining duration of their employment agreement. Usual termination and lay-off benefits paid to local workers will definitely not be just for a foreign migrant worker who is sent back to her country.

We also wish to state that this ‘Foreign Workers First Out’ (FWFO) policy and practice is unconstitutional, as it goes against Article 8 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution, whereby Article 8(1) clearly provides that 'All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law...', and there is nothing in the Constitution that permits discrimination against non-citizens, in favour of citizens, with regard to employment. Therefore, section 60N of the Employment Act 1955, which some use as the basis of FWFO practice is ultra vires the Federal Constitution, and as such is invalid.

We believe that it is better that migrant workers who are now in Malaysia who are or will be prematurely terminated be first used to fill up existing manpower needs, rather that bringing in new migrants.

We call on the Malaysian government to immediately stop this unjust, discriminatory and unconstitutional policy and practice, known as ‘Foreign Workers First Out’ (FWFO) principle.

We call on Malaysia to demand that all employers fulfill their contractual agreements with regard to all workers, including foreign workers. We hope that mechanisms are put in place to ensure that employers pay workers adequate and just compensation for any early termination of employment agreement.

Charles Hector
Pranom Somwong
for and on behalf of the following 59 organisations

ALIRAN, Malaysia
All Nepal Women's Association (ANWA) (Nepal)
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong
Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Jakarta
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Building and Wood Workers International, Asia Pacific Region (BWI)
BOMSA Women Migrant's Association of Bangladesh
BRAC Advocacy and Human Rights Unit, Bangladesh
CARAM Cambodia
Citizens' Watch Network Sri Lanka
Civil Rights Committee - Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
(CRC-KLSCAH), Malaysia
Committee for Asian Women (CAW)
Community Development Services (CDS), Colombo, Sri Lanka
Coordination Of Action Research on Aids &Mobility (CARAM-ASIA)
COVA (Confederation of Voluntary Associations), India
Empower Foundation, Thailand
Federation of Trade Unions – Burma (FTUB )
Global Alliance against Traffic in Women (GAATW)
Hope Workers’ Center, Taiwan
IMA Research Foundation Bangladesh
Institute for Migrant Workers (IWORK), Indonesia
International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID)
Kav LaOved (Worker's Hotline), Israel
Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA) Pakistan
Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia
MADPET (Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture)
MAP Foundation for the Health and Knowledge Of Ethnics Labour, Thailand
Messrs Charles Hector, Malaysia
Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions, Inc. (MMCEAI), Philippines
Migrant CARE (Perhimpunan Indonesia untuk Buruh Migran Berdaulat)
Migrant Services Centre – NWC, Sri Lanka
Multi National Women's Organization of Burma ( MNWOB)
Myanmar Refugee Volunteer Group (MRVG)
National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders (NAWHRD), Nepal
Nepal Institute of Development Studies (NIDS)
Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
Nijera Kori, Bangaladesh
Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program( OKUP), Bangaladesh
Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS), Malaysia
Pusat Khidmat Pekerja Tanjung (PKPT), Malaysia
Raks Thai Foundation, Thailand
Safe Migration Facilitation Center Advocacy & Human Rights Unit, Bangladesh
Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia
St. John's Cathedral HIV Education Centre, Hong Kong
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
The Action Network for Migrant Workers (ACTFORM), Sri Lanka
The Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), Philippines
The Prevention of HIV/AIDS among Migrant Workers in Thailand
Project (PHAMIT)
Transient Workers Count Too, Singapore
United for Foreign Domestic Workers Rights (UFDWRs)
United Indonesians against Overcharging (PILAR-HK), Hong Kong
WARBE Development Foundation, Bangladesh
Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI), Malaysia
Women's Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC), Nepal
Workers Hub 4 Change (WH4C)

* Updated with additional signatories (as at 23/3/2009)