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73 Myanmar deaths in Malaysian custody: Media

Myanmar Times, Myanmar, 19 May 2017 - More than half of the foreigners who died at Malaysian immigration detention camps over the past two years are Myanmar citizens, according to a report by the Malaysian National Human Rights Commission Human Rights, Suhakam, the Malay acronym.


The report said that of the 118 deaths in the camps, between 2015 and 2016, 73 were Myanmar nationals, 23 Indonesians and 14 Bangladeshis and the balance were other nationals.

According to the Malaysian news website, Malaysiakini, the main cause of death was disease and illness like tuberculosis and HIV related complications.

U Chit Kaung the chair of Malaysian based Myanmar Migrants Aid Organization told The Myanmar Times, “We always get the latest information about the situation in detention centers. The detainees have not been provided with proper meals and food.”

He also said that all Myanmar voluntary and aid organisations in Malaysia have been prohibited by the Myanmar Embassy in Malaysia to meet the Myanmar nationals detained in the camps.

U Chit Kaungsaid only certain officials and other partieshave been allowed to meet the detainees.

According to the migration aid organization, the illegal foreigners caught in the Malaysian government’s crack-down are sent to the immigration detention centers to await deportation to their home nations .

During the past two years, thousands of Myanmar nationals who were released from Malaysian jails had been stranded in the detentions centers for several years because of a delay in citizenship identificationby the Myanmar government.

Myanmar migrants, who returned home last year from the Malaysia detentions centers, told The Myanmar Times that they had to live at the detentions centers longer than the period spent in Malaysian prisons for various crimes committed.

Many Myanmar nationals have been living in the detention camps from between three months and three years.

Myanmar migrant worker KoHlaKhaingsaid, “I was jailed for about 5 months. I was sent to the detention camp when the prison released me. We were not allowed to communicate with anyone.

“Our embassy offices visit our camps once in 45 days. But, we cannot meet them. I had to live for eight months at the detention center,” he told The Myanmar Times.

Several Myanmar migrants who escaped the Malaysian detention centers said the detainees in detention camps had not been providedwith enough food and medical care and medicines when they were sick.

Myanmar migrant,KoThuraSoe said told The Myanmar Times that when he got back to Myanmar in the middle of 2016, there werestill many Myanmar nationals in the detention centres who were suffering from skin problems because of the malnutrition and unhygienicconditions.

Some Myanmar citizens died and many became mentally unstable because of harsh and inhumane conditions.

Many of them had to live for several months and some even years without hopeof returning home, according to the survivors who managed to make it home.

Ko Kyaw Zay Lwin, chair of Johor Buru based YadanaSettka philanthropy society, said,“In the past two years, there were manyRohingyas at the detention camps. Camps officers gave them preferential treatment as they have been listed by the UN as genuine refugees.

73 Myanmar deaths in Malaysian custody: Media

“They also used to beat up members of the Rakhine and Myanmar race and as they hate our nationals,” he told The Myanmar Times on May 16.

KoKyawZayLwin and his society members had a chance to visit the JohorPekanNenas detention center and meet Myanmar detainees and to help them get Certificate of Identity (CI) so that they could return home.

He said after they had helped many Myanmar nationalsto return home, their organizationwas not allowed to meet the Myanmar migrants held in detention centers in from earlier 2016 by Myanmar embassy officials.

Currently, Myanmar embassy officials are visiting each detention center once in 5 weeks to meet Myanmar detainees in order to facilitate the issuing of the CIs, according to embassy officials who were recently transferred to the Myanmar embassy in Malaysia.

“We visit a camp twice a week. Now, the detention camps do not have many Myanmar nationals and we have not heard about any illness or deaths within the Myanmar community,“said one embassy official who did not want to be named.

Speaking to The Myanmar Times, he said, “Our officials have been doing good work in the past. Now, we intend to be better in our work by helping our people to return home.”

Malaysian based Myanmar migrant aid organizations and and several migrants who returned home from detention centers told The Myanmar Times that other foreigners who were released rom jailsstayed at the detention centers for only a week.

This is because their respective embassies helped them to go back home very quickly and their embassy officials visit and meet their nationals every week.

There are are an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 Myanmar migrants, including illegals, who are living and working in Malaysia.

Myanmar has temporararily banned the sending of workers to Malaysia since December 2016 after a political fallout with the Malaysian government.

Before the ban,some 3000 to 4000 Myanmar workers went to Malaysia monthly.

Human rights organisations haveurged the Malaysia government to investigate conditions at the immigration detention centers and find out how the 118 deathtook place in the camps.


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