Tenaganita condemns raids on undocumented migrants, refugees in Kuala Lumpur

Police and Armed Forces personnel patrol the vicinity of Menara City One in Kuala Lumpur March 31, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Police and Armed Forces personnel patrol the vicinity of Menara City One in Kuala Lumpur March 31, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — Rights advocacy group Tenaganita condemned the concerted immigration raids to round up undocumented migrants and refugees across the city today.

Tenaganita executive director Glorene A Dass said the operations, in which children were reportedly also detained, were inhumane and cruel as they came during the holy month of Ramadan and an ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Noting that those being arrested include many from Muslim communities currently observing the holy month of Ramadan, to proceed with these mass crackdowns is a ruthless act in principle. Beyond this, what is more abominable is the arrest of minors during these operations, with reports of some as young as one year old.

“Tenaganita questions the intentions and values of the Malaysian government, who is currently disregarding the basic human rights of every individual, regardless of their documentation status. This will become a stain on our nation’s morality and integrity, based on the value we are currently placing on the right to a life of dignity for all, and further to that, pose additional risks to our country’s public health,” she said in a statement today.

“While it is understandable that measures are necessary to curb future Covid-19 outbreaks, to target and detain these individuals during this time, which proves to be just as challenging to these communities as others, is unwarranted, and is not the only solution available.

“While Tenaganita further acknowledges the presence of millions of undocumented persons in Malaysia as an issue which needs to be addressed, a more comprehensive approach is required in a more transparent manner, to tackle the issue effectively.”

Glorene added that the crackdown violated previous assurances to undocumented migrants that there would be no ramifications to them if they cooperated with Covid-19 screenings and contact tracing.

Earlier, it was reported that multi-agency raids involving the police, immigration and civil defence occurred at three locations in the city, resulting in hundreds being detained.

The raids were conducted at Selangor Mansion, Malayan Mansion and Menara City One that were all put under enhanced movement control orders after Covid-19 cases were detected among the migrant workers residing there.

Heidy Quah, the founder of the Refuge For The Refugees group, alleged that even toddlers were detained in the crackdown.

“Kids as young as four years’ old — even younger, I am sure — are being detained — picked up from home, hauled into a lorry and sent off to immigration to be processed for detention.

“I had a few texting me from Masjid India. They were texting halfway, then as expected — ALL phones were being taken away, shut off,” she said in a statement.

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