Asylum Swap Deal & the 60th Year Anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention

Press Release (28 July 2011)

Asylum Swap Deal & the 60th Year Anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention: Ratify First, Arrange Later

Today, 28th of July, 2011, will mark the 60th year anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention – the first and main international agreement that protects the fundamental rights of refugees across the world. 142 nations have ratified the convention. This number does not include Malaysia.

Asylum Swap deal signed

On Monday, 25th June 2011, Australian and Malaysian governments together signed the controversial asylum swap deal. The deal to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in return for 4,000 recognized refugees to Australia comes into effect immediately at midnight.

As a human rights organization, SUARAM strongly condemns the decision to continue the deal, which is constantly criticized by additional various quarters including the UN as well as Malaysian and Australian activists.

SUARAM is of the view that this is a gross denial of freedom and the right to seek asylum in Australia, a country that is signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention. SUARAM rejects the elucidation that this deal would be a win-win situation for the both governments and a total loss for the smugglers. What about the subjects involved (asylum seekers or transferees)? Do the governments believe this deal will benefit them (asylum seekers)? Do they think this deal will confine asylum seekers to a boat sailing to Australia? This deal does not meet its justification of stopping human trafficking and the smuggling business model.

The failure to look into human rights principles

SUARAM believes that the failure to take into consideration human rights principles is the most crucial and overlooked element in the arrangement. Poor human rights protection has been encouraging asylum seekers to flee from Malaysia and sometimes use whatever means they deem necessary to seek protection.

Both governments must respect the rights of all individuals seeking asylum in Australia and not gamble their fates by transferring them to Malaysia, a country that has not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention. The failure to look into human rights principles may lead to the failure to consider those on the losing end: the asylum seekers who will be transferred to Malaysia.

Verbal commitment, insubstantial pact

Ministers Hishamuddin Hussein and his Australian counterpart, Chris Bowen had both officially signed the agreement promising that the 800 asylum seekers will be treated in “dignity” and “respect”. This included their rights to work, access to education and health care, and freedom to move. At the same time, the details of the agreement do not ensure any concrete proposal to enforce the guarantees and promises made by the ministers. If the official arrangement does not guarantee concrete protection to the 800 asylum seekers, how can a verbal commitment claim to ensure concrete protection to the 800 asylum seekers? We believe that these 800 asylum seekers will melt into the 100,000 refugees who suffer and enjoy almost “zero” tolerance and fundamental rights protection.

Ratify first, arrange later

Until now, Malaysia has showed no intention of ratifying the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. Yet Malaysia is interested getting involved with refugee-related arrangements such as the asylum swap.

Malaysia maintains a blanket policy that all undocumented migrants including refugees and asylum seekers are considered illegal migrants. As such, they can be arrested, deported, and even punished by judicial caning under the immigration act.

SUARAM urges the Malaysian government to first ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and/or at least to develop an effective domestic act and administrative mechanisms before dealing with any arrangements regarding refugees and asylum seekers.

Why should Malaysia ratify?

SUARAM launched its campaign to urge the Malaysian government to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention in May 2011. In conjunction with the 60th year anniversary of the convention on 28th July, we once again urge the government to ratify it in order to provide legal protection and promotion of the fundamental rights of the refugees in accordance with internationally recognized legal and humanitarian standards.

Ratification would also demonstrate the Malaysian government’s commitment for genuine “burden sharing” in handling global issues: developing effective administration and cooperation with UNHCR, reducing the capacity of immigration detention centres, as well as supporting the lack of human resources in various domestic sectors in Malaysia.

Released by,

Andika Wahab
Refugee Coordinator
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
[email protected]
0163723699

Malaysia: Unconditional release of the 6 PSM leaders, amid continuing concerns for freedom of assembly and expression

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Press Release
Malaysia: Unconditional release of the 6 PSM leaders, amid continuing concerns for freedom of assembly and expression
Paris-Geneva-Kuala Lumpur, August 2, 2011. Six Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) leaders, who had been detained under the Emergency (Public Order and Crime Prevention) Ordinance, were released on 29 July 2011, but they may face charges similar to those of the other members of the party who are facing legal threats for their peaceful activities. The recent wave of repression on peaceful activities, including the politically-motivated deportation of a French lawyer, all point to a continuing, serious deterioration in the Malaysian government’s respect for basic freedoms and the rule of law, said the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and their member organisation, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM).
 
The Government has also yet to account for allegations of police abuses during the crackdown of the July 9 rally organised by Bersih (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections), added FIDH, OMCT and SUARAM today. The Malaysian Bar Council, which monitored the rally, concluded in its report that the “rally participants generally behaved in a peaceful and calm manner” whereas there were “indiscriminate and excessive use of tear gas and water cannons,” “unnecessary use of physical force/high-handedness by the police force,” and “random and arbitrary arrests”[1].
 
The six leaders of the PSM, namely Mr. Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, Miss Saraswathy Muthu, Mr. Choo Chon Kai, Mr. Sukumaran Munisamy, Mr. A. Letchumanan and Mr. Saratbabuabu, were first arrested on June 25, 2011, along with 25 other PSM activists, including three minors one of whom was released the same day, and charged with “waging war against the King” under Section 122 of the Penal Code for merely possessing or wearing Bersih T-shirts bearing images of former leaders of the Communist Party of Malaysia. On the same day of their release on bail on July 2, they were re-arrested and detained ever since under the Emergency Ordinance. The authorities justified their detention on the allegation that they were mainly responsible for organising the Bersih rally on July 9, 2011. On July 22, the Kuala Lumpur High Court approved a request from the Prosecutor for more time to file affidavit and postponed the habeas corpus hearing for the six PSM leaders until 5 August. However, on July 29 the six were eventually released. They are expected to be charged on 3 August 2011 at the Butterworth court in Penang.
An additional 24 PSM members had been released after posting bail on July 4. They have been charged under the Societies Act with acting on behalf of an unlawful organisation and under the Internal Security Act (ISA) with possessing documents deemed to be “subversive”. These charges seem to be aimed at merely sanctioning the members’ peaceful exercise of their freedom of association, assembly and expression.
Also, on July 22, French Lawyer William Bourdon was deported to France from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Mr. Bourdon represents SUARAM in an on-going case before French courts against French naval arms producer DCNS over financial irregularities in a Scorpene submarine deal that allegedly involved millions of ringgit in kickbacks[2].
This case, which allegedly involves corruption at top level, reveals the extent to which Malaysian authorities feel uneasy and attempt by all means to hide out the truth by restricting freedom of expression and assembly.
“In the last two months, the government has failed miserably in upholding its obligation to respect freedom of expression and assembly, by beating, arresting and persecuting people for their peaceful activities, and denying the people’s right to receive information on issues of public interests” FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen said today.
“The government needs to pull back from the brink of authoritarianism by ceasing these violations” Nalini Elumalai added.
“We are very much concerned about these recent events, and notably the allegations of police abuses. We urge the Malaysian authorities to put an end to these violations, and promptly investigate the aforementioned allegations”, said Mr. Eric Sottas, OMCT’s Secretary General.
Press Contact:
FIDH:     Arthur Manet/Karine Appy + 33 1 43 55 90 19 / + 33 1 43 55 14 12  
OMCT: Alexandra Kossin, Tel. +41 22 809 49 39
SUARAM: Nalini Elumalai, Program Manager, Tel: +6019 3758912
 
For more information on our work on Malaysia, please visit:

30 ACTIVISTS FROM PSM INCLUDING TWO MINOR’S CHARGED

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
URGENT APPEAL: 26 JUNE 2011

RELEASE THEM NOW: 30 ACTIVISTS FROM PSM INCLUDING TWO MINOR’S CHARGED UNDER THE SECTION 122 OF PENAL CODE

30 Activists from Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) including two minors have been charged under the Section 122 of Penal Code and they were remanded for 7 days for practicing their freedom of expression.

They group were arrested on the 25th June at the kepala Batas while they were distributing leaflets to inform the public that BN had to be removed after 54 years of alleged misrule and the pitfall of returning BN to power in the 13 general election. However the convoys from the Northern and southern Malaysia faced police obstructions in the form of road blocks and harassment’s.

SUARAM only manage to get 27 names. They are:

Minor’s
1. Raveendran veerasenan
2. Thiviya kumar

Female
3. Saraswathy
4. Pakiualethchumy
5. Jothi
6. Sok Sok hwa
7. Indra
8. Kamala
9. Saroja
10.Santhana
11. Wong mei yong
12. Nalayani
12. Deepa
14. Unknown Chinese lady
15. Unknown Indian lady

Male

16. Kumar
17. Sugumaran
18. Lecthumanan
19. velayutham
20. Ravindran Munusamy
21. Choo Chon kai
22. Remy
23. Sarat babu
24. Danasundram
25.Sivasamy
26. balu
27. Selvam (bus driver)

The police said they are probing an alleged attempt by the PSM Activists to revive communism and are investigating 30 Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jayakumar for “waging war against the Yang DiPertuan Agong.” This is believed to be very serious allegation against the human rights defenders.

SUARAM strongly condemns the police for their on-going attacks and intimidation on freedom of expression, a fundamental right which is guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. SUARAM calls the government to immediately release and withdrew charges against all those arrested. We are very concern about the two minors who has not been given proper legal assistance and welfare officers. In addition, the police have violated Section 19(5) of the Child Act (CA) by failing to notify the Welfare Department of the arrest and subsequent custody of the three children in order to appoint a Welfare Officer to attend to this matter. This is despicable and amounts to a breach of their administrative duty.

We demand the Malaysian government to stop all the intimidation and release all those detained immediately and allow the Malaysian people to exercise their freedom of expression as stated in the Federal Constitution.

Released by,

Nalini.E
Program Manager
SUARAM

What can you do?

Urgent action needed:

Please write protest letters to the government and the police to express your strongest condemnation of the arrests and the on-going denial of rights of expression. Please also demand the Malaysian government to release all the Activists to continue and respect the freedom of expression as stated in Article 10 of Federal Constitution.

SAMPLE LETTER
[Letterhead of your organisation]
1. 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]

Dear Sir,

Re: Release all those detained and Stop on- going crackdown on Freedom of Expression!

We are writing to you, once again, to express our outrage and our strongest condemnation over your government’s on-going crackdown on freedom of expression.

We are appalled by your government and the police’s latest actions and view this as yet another attempt by your government to intimidate Malaysian citizens from exercising their freedom to express their views. We further demand that your government stops the assault on freedom of expression and release all those 30 Activists immediately.

We strongly urge you, once again, to stop bringing shame to Malaysia, a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. We would like to remind you that freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]
Cc To:

1. Inspector-General of Police
Tan Sri Ismail Omar,
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia,
50560 Bukit Aman,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: +603 2262 6015
Fax: +603 2272 5613

2. Tan Sri Hasmy Agam,
Chairman,
Malaysian Human Rights Commission,
Level 11, Menara TH Perdana,
Jalan Sultan Ismail,
50250 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03 26125600
Fax: 03 26125620

3. Mr. Frank La Rue
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
Email: [email protected]

4. Ms. Margaret Sekaggya,
Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights defenders,
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

5. Christine Chung,
Human Rights Officer,
Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights,
Asia Pacific Section, Asia Pacific and Middle East Branch,
Field Operation & Technical Cooperation,
OHCHR- Palais Wilson,
United Nationas Office at Geneva,
CH-1211 Geneva 10,
Switzerland.
Tel: +41 (0) 229289673
Fax: +41 (0) 22928 9018
Email: [email protected]

Kenyataan Akhbar 27 Jun: Tindakan Polis Melampau

Kenyataan akhbar : 27 Jun 2011

Tindakan Polis Melampau Dengan Menyalahgunakan Kuasa!
Rakyat Berhak Untuk Bebas Bersuara!

SUARAM mengecam tindakan pihak polis yang sekian hari menyalahgunakan kuasa dengan menangkap orang yang memakai baju kuning kemeja T ‘Bersih’. Kami berpendapat bahawa polis telah menyalahgunakan kuasa sehingga melakukan tindakan yang bercanggah dengan Perlembagaan Persekutuan yang menjaminkan kebebasan bersuara rakyat.

Sejak 24 Jun 2011, polis telah membuat beberapa penangkapan dan mengganggu ceramah Bersih di sekitar Selangor termasuk Shah Alam ,Gombak dan Kapar, Penang dan Johor serta menangkap aktivis yang menyokong perhimpunan Besih. Antara jumlah aktivis yang pernah dan masih ditangkap kira-kira berjumlah 70 orang.

Kami tidak menerima alasan polis bahawa perhimpunan Bersih akan mengganggu keamanan masyarakat. Tindakan polis sekian hari ini adalah tidak profesional dan langsung tidak beretika. Polis tidak berkuasa mengeluarkan permit perhimpunan kerana ia adalah hak asasi semua rakyat Malaysia.

Selain itu, polis langsung tidak berkuasa untuk menangkap sesiapa disebabkan memakai baju kuning ‘Bersih’.Ia merupakan satu tindakan penyalahgunaan kuasa untuk menakutkan orang awam. Kebebasan bersuara rakyat telah dijamin bawah Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Kami menuntut polis berhenti menjadi ‘alat mainan’ kerajaan Barisan Nasional(BN). Kredibiliti dan maruah polis akan jatuh di kalangan masyarakat dan masyarakat akan menolak penguatkuasa yang tidak berorientasi rakyat .Secara jelasnya, kerajaan yang sanggup menggunakan institusi-institusinya untuk menindas rakyat supaya ia dapat kekalkan kuasanya, tidak akan kekal lama disebabkan rakyatnya yang cekal dan tidak mudah terpengaruh.

Kami menuntut polis membebaskan semua aktivis yang ditahan dengan segera dan semua polis yang terlibat perlu diambil tindakan atas sebab penyalahgunaan kuasa.

Kempen ‘Bersih’ yang menuntut pilihanraya yang adil dan bebas adalah kempen dianjurkan oleh rakyat dan ia meupakan suara dan tuntutan rakyat. Kami percaya rakyat akan meneruskan perjuangan untuk sistem demokrasi yang adil dan bebas. Universal Diklarasi Hak Asasi Manusia (UDHR) dan Perlembagaan Persekutuan telah menjaminkan himpunan Bersih perlu dijalankan secara aman.

Yap Heng Lung
Penyelaras SUARAM

POLICE POWER ABUSE SHOULD BE STOP NOW!

URGENT APPEAL: 27 JUNE 2011

POLICE POWER ABUSE SHOULD BE STOP NOW!
PEOPLES HAVE THE RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION!

On the 26th June 2011, 7 of the peoples were arrested by police at Taman Kosas, Ampang on 11am because of wearing the ‘Bersih’ T-shirt on the Jawi language.

Now they are under detaining at IPD Ampang Jaya.

The seven peoples including:
1) Fazlulrahimi
2) Shahril Suhaimi
3) Adha Isa
4) Syafie Yunus
5) Ruziami
6) Fathullah
7) Engku Faizan

On the other hand, one of the participant was arrested by police in the same case of wearing the Bersih T-shirt on Bersih 2.0 talk (Ceramah) at the Gombak on the same day around 11pm.His name Amin was now arrested at Balai Polis Gombak.

SUARAM strongly condemns the police for their on-going attacks and intimidation on freedom of expression, a fundamental right which is guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. We demand the Malaysian government to stop all the intimidation release all those detained immediately and allow the Malaysian people to exercise their freedom of expression as stated in the Federal Constitution.

Released by,

Yap Heng Lung
SUARAM coordinator

What can you do?

Urgent action needed:

Please write protest letters to the government and the police to express your strongest condemnation of the arrests and the on-going denial of rights of expression. Please also demand the Malaysian government to allow the Activists to continue their campaign and allow them to practice their freedom of expression as stated in Article 10 of Federal Constitution.

SAMPLE LETTER
[Letterhead of your organisation]
Inspector-General of Police
Tan Sri Ismail Omar,
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia,
50560 Bukit Aman,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: +603 2262 6015
Fax: +603 2272 5613
Dear Sir,

Re: Stop on- going crackdown on Freedom of Expression!

We are writing to you, once again, to express our outrage and our strongest condemnation over your government’s ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression.

We are appalled by your government and the police’s latest actions and view this as yet another attempt by your government to intimidate Malaysian citizens from exercising their freedom to express their views. We further demand that your government stops the assault on freedom of expression.

We strongly urge you, once again, to stop bringing shame to Malaysia, a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. We would like to remind you that freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]
Cc To:

1. 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]

2. IPD Ampang
Taman Dagang,68000 Ampang
Selangor.
Tel: 03-42897222
Fax: 03-42570730

3.Balai Polis Gombak
JKR 791 Batu 6, Jalan Gombak
53100 Gombak.
Tel: 03-61895222

4. Tan Sri Hasmy Agam,
Chairman,
Malaysian Human Rights Commission,
Level 11, Menara TH Perdana,
Jalan Sultan Ismail,
50250 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03 26125600
Fax: 03 26125620

5. Mr. Frank La Rue
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
Email: [email protected]

6. Ms. Margaret Sekaggya,
Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights defenders,
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

7. Christine Chung,
Human Rights Officer,
Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights,
Asia Pacific Section, Asia Pacific and Middle East Branch,
Field Operation & Technical Cooperation,
OHCHR- Palais Wilson,
United Nationas Office at Geneva,
CH-1211 Geneva 10,
Switzerland.
Tel: +41 (0) 229289673
Fax: +41 (0) 22928 9018
Email: [email protected]