Van Biak Thang
04 April, 2009
An ‘unknown’ number of Chin refugees have been found detained in Malaysia after a team of three UNHCR officers and three interpreters visited the Langkap detention centre at Teluk Intan in Perak last Monday.
A source said more than an estimated 200 refugees are in the detention centre and about 40 percent of it are Chin including women. The Langkap detention centre has been known among the refugees as having the worst condition with caning punishment.
Mr. Bawi Ceu, who has been detained since July 2008 when he was arrested with many other Chin refugees at Cameron Highland, was quoted as saying: “We were sentenced by the court to two strokes of the cane and 7-month imprisonment last December. It is not easy as we are just being cooped up. There are many Chin refugees in this centre and please pray for all of us.”
The Chin detainees, according to one Chin witness, have no other places to sleep but on the cement floor without blankets and also get ill frequently as they are not given enough food. He said those who do not speak and understand Malaysian are shouted at, threatened and even slapped. The Chin refugees face harsh condition and abuses in detention camps where slapping and kicking are common and normal, he added.
On 1 April 2009, two lorries full of newly arrested refugees arrived at the Langkap detention centre and more than 20 Chin refugees were included. “We shouted if there were any Chin refugees in the lorries. Raising their hands, some women melted into tears and cried once they heard our voices in Chin. After encouraging them, we left uncomfortably,” continued the Chin refugee witness.
The Malaysian government has since January, 2009 stopped deporting refugees into the Thai-Malaysian border where a deported refugee could get into the hands of human traffickers.
The current situation of Chin refugees in Malaysia has raised grave concerns among the Chin communities and an email prayer request has been circulated and launched across the globe for especially those who are being detained and facing rough condition in Malaysian detention camps.