Clever Kunfu Master should give extra tuition classes to improve the unintelligent and retarded SPDC pupils

Clever Kunfu Master should give extra tuition classes

to improve the unintelligent and retarded SPDC pupils

The Associated Press

 Different responses to disasters in Myanmar, China

By EDITH M. LEDERER

 

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Two natural disasters in tightly controlled Asian nations this month have produced two very different responses: Myanmar’s very slow reaction to Cyclone Nargis and China’s speedy response to a killer earthquake.

Myanmar’s sparked international outrage. China’s won admiration.

Myanmar’s military government, which has ruled with an iron first since 1962, has barred almost all foreign experts experienced in managing humanitarian crises, saying it would handle relief efforts on its own.

But without the equipment to even lift cargo off Boeing 747s and at least 1.5 million people in need, the U.N. warned Tuesday that Myanmar faces a monumental catastrophe unless relief efforts reach the scale of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

China’s communist government also said it was not allowing foreign aid workers into the area affected by Monday’s 7.9-magnitude earthquake that wrecked towns and killed thousands across Sichuan province though it would accept international aid for the tens of thousands left homeless.

But in contrast to Myanmar, China’s government quickly moved into high-gear, sending 20,000 soldiers and police into the disaster area with 30,000 more on the way. The government was also mobilizing food, clothes, tents and plastic sheeting for the victims and sent Premier Wen Jiabao to oversee relief efforts.

China’s leaders appeared intent on reassuring the Chinese people and the world that they were in control of the biggest natural disaster to strike the country in three decades. They also wanted to show they were ready for the Aug. 8-24 Olympics in Beijing.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday sharply criticized Myanmar’s military junta, whose leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe has refused to take his calls, expressing frustration at “the unacceptably slow response to this grave humanitarian crisis.”

U.N. Office for Humanitarian Affairs spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs followed up saying: “We fear a second catastrophe unless we’re able to put in place quickly a maximum of aid and a major logistical effort comparable with the response to the tsunami.”

U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas also said Tuesday that Ban was not concerned so far that China has not yet said what kind of help the U.N. can provide to quake victims.

“He doesn’t have any reports that aid is not reaching the survivors and that the survivors are not being taken care of,” she said. “I think his concern was about the situation in Myanmar, because of the fact that people were not receiving aid.”

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador John Sawers also said the two disaster responses were different.

“I think China has reacted very promptly to the appalling disaster … and I think the political attention, the rapid response, has been admirable,” he said.

“The situation in Burma is very, very different,” Sawers said, using the former name for Myanmar. “There, the scale of the disaster is a whole lot greater. The risk of waterborne disease, lack of clean sanitation — all these problems are going to escalate over the days to come.”

The Myanmar government says the cyclone left at least 34,273 dead and 27,838 missing. Sawers warned the death toll could “double or more because of the lack of basic health care facilities and clean water and food and shelter — and with heavy rains expected in southern Burma in the days ahead that can only make things even worse.”

Sawers and Ban also expressed concern at reports that food and aid from the U.N. and other organizations that arrived in Myanmar is being diverted to non-cyclone victims, though there has not been independent confirmation of these reports.

Myanmar Cyclone photo album from Reuter Part 4

Myanmar Cyclone photo album from Reuter Part 4

 

 

Photo

Men rebuild a damaged house in Yangon Pauk, Myanmar, May 12, 2008.  

REUTERS/Stringer

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A woman waits with others for aid handouts near Danouk, Myanmar, May 12, 2008.  

REUTERS/Stringer

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A boy smiles as he eats a piece of bread which he received from a doctor with a foreign non-governmental organization medical team visiting the village which was hit by Cyclone Nargis, outside Yangon May 14, 2008.

REUTERS/Stringer

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A woman sits outside her dwelling as men work on a shelter behind her in a village affected by Cyclone Nargis located near the Myanmar capital Yangon May 14, 2008.

REUTERS/StringerPhoto 

Survivors of Cyclone Nargis stay at a shelter as a foreign nongovernmental organization medical team arrive to treat them, at a village outside Yangon May 14, 2008.

REUTERS/StringerPhoto 

A survivor of Cyclone Nargis holds medicine and bread at a shelter as a foreign nongovernmental organization medical team arrived to treat them at a village outside Yangon May 14, 2008.

REUTERS/Stringer

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Children survivors of Cyclone Nargis look out a window of their damaged home as a foreign non-governmental organization medical team arrives to treat them in a village outside Yangon May 14, 2008.

REUTERS/StringerPhoto 

A child eats in a village affected by Cyclone Nargis located near the Myanmar capital Yangon May 14, 2008.

REUTERS/Stringer

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A worker labels a box containing water purification system donated by the Singapore Red Cross bound for Myanmar at a warehouse in Singapore May 14, 2008.

REUTERS/Tim Chong

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Survivors of Cyclone Nargis stay at a shelter as a foreign nongovernmental organization medical team arrive to treat them at a village outside Yangon May 14, 2008.

REUTERS/Stringer

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Survivors of Cyclone Nargis stay in a shelter as a foreign non-governmental organization medical team arrives to treat them, in a village outside Yangon May 14, 2008.

REUTERS/Stringer

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Internally displaced people eat at a relief centre near Dedaye, in the Irrawaddy Delta, in the Irrawaddy Delta May 14, 2008.

REUTERS/Stringer

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Equipment for water preparation into a Iljushin 76 cargo plane at Frankfurt Hahn airport May 13, 2008.

REUTERS/Alex Grimm

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A child rests inside a damaged school house, along with dozens of families, in a village affected by Cyclone Nargis located near the Myanmar capital Yangon May 14, 2008.

Photo

REUTERS/Stringer

A child is carried by a boy in a village affected by Cyclone Nargis located near the Myanmar capital Yangon May 14, 2008.

REUTERS/Stringer

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A nurse tends to a wounded person in Bogalay hospital May 13, 2008.

REUTERS/International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies/Handout

Had Cyclones Nargis struck the final nail in the SPDC’s coffin?

Had Cyclones Nargis struck the final nail in the SPDC’s coffin?

Extracts from the article of Dean Johns by May 14, 08 10:52am in the Malaysiakini

 

burma anger 070404Some international observers are suggesting that the Burmese generals’ callous disregard of their people’s plight in the wake of could eventually prove the long-overdue death-blow to their calamitous regime.

Cyclone Nargis

 

Many Malaysians are sensing the winds of change too. Unfortunately, however, the scenario smack more of wishful thinking than of real or at least imminent possibility. Or do they?

 

It’s hard to imagine how the generals of the junta could be more hated by their people than they have become already for their illegal seizure of power in 1990 and subsequent savage crackdowns on minority groups and monks and other citizens calling for democracy.

But their response, or lack of it, to the death and destruction caused by Cyclone Nargis has discredited them, if possible, even further.

The few reports I’ve seen from journalists who have defied the regime’s media ban have described scenes of monks doing disaster work while soldiers stand around watching, and of soldiers competing with civilians for the little aid that has appeared.

 

Meanwhile, for an entire week since the disaster, the government has stalled international relief efforts by denying visas to outsiders or subjecting them to a two-week approval process that was further delayed when embassy and consular staff stopped work for, unbelievably in these desperate circumstances, a public holiday.

Worse even than the regime’s idleness and intransigence has been an attempt at a public relations exercise to try and cover up its disgraceful performance.

than shweAs reported by Associated Press, state television aired scenes of Senior General Than Shwe (photo) and his underlings handing out aid in boxes. One of these, the label ‘Aid from the Kingdom of Thailand’ had been over-written with the name of Lt-General Myint Swe, a rising star in the junta.

If any of the hapless Burmese people have been fooled by such contemptible propaganda, the rest of the world certainly hasn’t been. The UN and heads of nations around the world are calling with increasing urgency and anger for the generals to let aid workers in to help the people.

France has been advocating that the Burmese regime’s criminal neglect of its citizens be referred to the UN Security Council, but China and Indonesia have opposed this move on the grounds that the disaster “should not be politicised”.

hurricane katrina new orleans 050905 cars on roofEven US First Lady Laura Bush made an impassioned plea to the generals to show some mercy. But unfortunately her intervention only served to remind the world of how tardy and incompetent her husband’s administration had been with its relief effort back when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans a few years ago.

Speaking of hypocrisy, I’ve seen precious little if any mention of Asean in the international outcry for permission to come to the aid of Burma’s cyclone victims. But what more can anybody expect of an organisation that would accept the generals’ Burma as a member in the first place?

 

Blow ‘em away

 

internet media and print mediaIn any case, the sorry saga still drags on as I write this, and a million or so hungry, bereaved and homeless people are left by their rulers to fend for themselves.

I only hope that when they’ve recovered they’ll find a way, at last, to treat their criminal oppressors to such a cyclone of civil and political defiance as to blow them away forever.In any case, the sorry saga still drags on as I write this, and a million or so hungry, bereaved and homeless people are left by their rulers to fend for themselves.

I only hope that when they’ve recovered they’ll find a way, at last, to treat their criminal oppressors to such a cyclone of civil and political defiance as to blow them away forever.

 

 

Why practice multiple standards in treating foreign migrants here?

Why practice multiple standards in treating foreign migrants here?

 

Malaysiakini news May 14, 08 6:00pm

 

My comment: It is very easy. To solve that Sabah problem and as a gesture of mercy to the Myanmars in West Malaysia, just transfer all the RELA to Sabah.orang asli court 200905 palace of justice

De facto lawzaid ibrahim and law students minister Zaid Ibrahim is the champion of Burmese Opposition. He should follow up with the unfair treatment on all the Burmese/Myanmars here.

 

Gerakan today urged the government to take concrete steps to address the grievances of Sabahans including the possibility of calling a royal commission on the issue of illegal immigrants in the state.

“This undesirable situation has led to a lot of discontent amongst the Sabah people who have also raised questions about how some illegal migrants managed to get permanent resident (PR) and even citizenship status,” said acting party leader Dr Koh Tsu Khoon in a statement today.
 

koh tsu koon wawasan university 220906 ponder“Therefore, in order to answer such queries and to take concrete measures to prevent more illegal migrants from entering Sabah, it may be necessary to set up a royal commission of enquiry as requested by some Barisan Nasional component parties.”

 

Koh was referring to the serious allegations that illegal immigrants from neighbouring Philippines and Indonesia have been given identity cards (IC) by the authorities to enable them to vote in elections.

He said the problem of illegal migrants is one of the many long-standing issues which has affected the “livelihood, social fabric, and security of the people of Sabah”.

There has been conflicting accounts from official and unofficial sources on the exact number of illegal immigrants in the state. Most, however, agree that the number is around 750,000.

The total number of foreigners, including illegal immigrants, in Sabah is estimated at 1.75 million.As a result, foreigners outnumbered locals in the state, which has a total population of 3.3 million. Most of the working foreigners are employed in the construction and agricultural sectors.

 

UPDATE:

Sabahan member of parliament Abdul Ghapur Salleh (BN-Kalabakan) said today_

 abdul ghapur sallehAsserting that crime and safety were issues that come under the responsibilities of the federal government, Abdul Ghapur called for a federal-level committee to tackle the issue of undocumented migrants. the issue of illegal immigrants, as they would want to be with the Philippines. What will happen to Sabah?! What will happen to Sabah?!”

Despite having raised these issues many times before, there seemed a lack of seriousness on the part of the administration in Putrajaya to solve the problems raised, he added.

“What goes into the (federal government’s) right ear comes out the left,” he said.

He also said “there are many double-standards in Barisan Nasional” Yes! read this below. For Myanmar citizens, even for the Muslims, we are unfairly discriminated.

There is also widespread discontent in Sabah over the steady influx of illegal immigrants from the Philippines and Indonesia who have somehow managed to obtain identity cards as well as voting rights.

Meanwhile, another component party United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) 

Party vice-president Dr Marcus Mojigoh warned that this could lead to the downfall of the Barisan government.

According to local newspaper Daily Express, Mojigoh said there were claims of “over a million newly-created Malays” from the Philippines and Indonesia in Sabah.

“Imagine (if) you have to address these illegals as ‘tuan’,” he lamented.
 
Mojigoh stressed the authorities must address the problem of illegal immigrants gaining citizenship and acquiring the Malay status through the back door.

 

Myanmar refugees and Rela

Myanmar refugees and Rela

AI, Aliran: NO to ‘Rela department’

Malaysiakini

Two human rights watchdogs have come out strongly against attempts by the government to make the People Volunteer Corps (Rela) into a full fledged enforcement department soon.

Amnestry International Malaysia (AI) executive director Josef Roy Benedict said such a move would further legitimise and strengthen the powers of Rela members to arbitrarily arrest, search and detain individuals.

“This will worsen the current climate of arbitrary law enforcement in Malaysia and will increase the abuse of power and human rights violations,” he said in a statement today.

At present, Benedict said Rela already has wide and discretionary powers where they can stop any person, enter any premises and make arrests without any warrants.

Such powers also do not come with an oversight mechanism and thus was subject to abuse, he said.

“Therefore, these powers should not be extended to a volunteer civilian body with poorly trained, part time members,” he added.

Similarly, Penang-based civil rights group Aliran said sanctioning the activities of Rela was a setback for Malaysia as a member of the UN Human Rights Council as the body had gained international infamy.

Don’t condone abuses

In a statement yesterday, Aliran said the government should instead consider limiting Rela to a disaster relief work.

“Aliran contends that legitimising Rela to become a permanent feature of our security apparatus is superfluous and tantamount to condoning the continuing violations of human rights in the country, regardless of the status of the victims,” they said.

On June 26, Home Affairs Ministry parliamentary secretary Abdul Rahman Ibrahim announced that Rela was pushing for a separate law to govern its operations with greater authority.

The body currently operates as a division under the Home Affairs Ministry and is governed by the Essential (Ikatan Relawan Rakyat) Regulations 1972, an emergency period legislation.

It is primarily tasked with weeding out undocumented migrants and have been frequently blamed for human rights abuses during their operations.

Once recognised as a full fledged government department, Rahman said Rela would no longer need to depend on the ministry for allocations.

Rahman had told Parliament that Rela had 350,000 active members and 664 officers and administration heads. It is in the midst of recruiting another 3,000 members.

Global rights watchdog: Disband Rela

An international human rights watchdog said the Malaysian government should disband Rela (People’s Volunteer Corps) on grounds of repeated complaints of abuse and unlawful behaviour towards migrant workers. 
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement today that it has documented many instances of such abuse this year alone including:

• (April 5) Volunteers arrested some 20 Burmese refugees and asylum seekers at a market in Kuala Lumpur, of whom at least five had been officially recognised as refugees by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

 

• (late March) Eight members of a team removed belongings worth RM1,800 from one dwelling and were detained on robbery charges

• (March 8) An officer detained an Indian immigrant with identification certifying his legal status. It took four days for the worker’s employer to obtain his release from a detention camp for illegal immigrants.

• (March 6 and 7) Volunteers who were to have handed out flyers related to court orders helped a developer evict 50 families and tear down houses in Kampung Berembang. They operated bulldozers and were also alleged to have used excessive force.

• (March 2) 10 volunteers raided a factory in Jenjarom, Selangor, injuring two Nepalese workers and detaining eight others.

• (January 28) Rela raided in Kampung Sungai Merab, Denkil, resulting in the arbitrary arrest of 14 persons recognised as refugees by UNHCR.

“Rela volunteers (who are) fully uniformed, armed and unaccompanied by police or immigration officers, often employ unnecessary force and illegal policing practices,” the HRW statement said.

It also listed Rela’s modus operandi in, for example, breaking into migrant lodgings in the middle of the night without warrants and brutalising the occupants and extorting money from them.

“(They also) confiscate cell phones, clothing, jewelry, and household goods, before handcuffing migrants and transporting them to detention camps for ‘illegal immigrants’,” it stated.

Distinction ignored

The organisation said Rela members have failed to distinguish or have deliberately ignored the distinction between undocumented immigrants, and refugees and asylum seekers.

“At other times, volunteers have refused to recognise a worker’s legitimate immigration status … volunteers have been known to deliberately destroy identification cards proving a worker’s right to be in Malaysia.

“Rela’s behavior has embarrassed the government into announcing some minor reforms but tinkering with raiding procedures or upgrading training will not get to the fundamental issue, which is that Rela should be disbanded.”

Almost half a million volunteers are authorised to help maintain public order, primarily through the arrest of undocumented migrant workers.

According to the home ministry, the role of Rela is “to help maintain security in the country and the well being of the people” as the eyes and ears of the government since 1972.

However, in 2005, the corps was given more power to stop ‘any person suspected as terrorist, undesirable person, illegal immigrant or an occupier’.

“The government has set up what’s little more than a vigilante force to target foreigners. Given Rela’s repeated abuses, it should be disbanded right away,” HRW added.

Why M’sia refuses to ink refugee pact

Why Malaysia has not signed the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 and the Convention relating to the Stateless Persons 1961 despite being a United Nations member for more than 50 years?
The answer: Malaysians come first.

 

According to Foreign Ministry parliamentary secretary Ahmad Shabery Cheek, refugees will take jobs away from Malaysians.

“Malaysia is an escape door to people from our neighbouring countries like the Philippines, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. And we all know that there are internal problems in these countries.

“Given this, if we open our doors and recognise these people as refugees, we need to give them jobs and it is not possible when our people are also struggling to gain employment,” he said.

“We need to think Malaysians first. And this is the main reason why the government is not ready to sign the conventions.”

However, he told Parliament today that the government had adopted a policy where refugees are given “temporary shelter” to those who need it.

“As a caring country, we have worked together with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)to refugees who wish to go back to their home countries.

“For those who don’t want to, we provide temporary shelter in countries recognised by UNHCR,” said Ahmad Shabery.

28,668 refugees in Malaysia

Ahmad Shabery (BN-Kemaman) was responding to a query from M Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) who asked the foreign minister to state the number of refugees in Malaysia according to their country of origin and what are the assistance and protection given to them.

“Why are refugees often mistaken for illegal immigrants and put behind bars? Althought the government says that refugees benefit in certain ways in our system, why do we still have refugees who don’t have access to legal employment, education and healthcare?” asked Kulasegaran.

Ahmad Shabery that as of May, there were some 28,668 refugees from countries like Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, China, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Burma in Malaysia.

In July, the government launched a major operation to arrest and detain illegal immigrants from Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal and Philippines.

Some 100,000 refugees were also picked in the exercise leading to several organisations urging the government to stop the crackdown on refugees.

Champion of the refugees requested PM not to ignore Burmese refugees

Champion of the refugees requested PM not to ignore Burmese refugees  

 Malaysiakini news

May 14, 08 1:24pm

 Even as Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi pledges humanitarian aid to cyclone-ravaged Burma, he should not forget the Burmese refugees in Malaysia who face a number of serious problems. 

 

 

 

Migrant workers lobby group Tenaganita said the government, through people’s volunteer corps Rela, cannot continue to oppress and repress the refugees at gunpoint, as done by the military junta that rules Burma.

tenaganita rubber board plantation workers plight 130807 irene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Director Irene Fernandez said in a statement today that “more than 60,000 Burmese refugees with children are being hunted down with a form of vengeance by Rela and the immigration department”.

 “They are mercilessly arrested and detained (under) inhuman conditions in various immigration detention centres,” she stated.

 

 She said the riots at the Lenggeng centre on April 21 was reflective of the “harsh treatment… and mismanagement of the camps by immigration and Rela authorities”.

 

 She said the riots at the Lenggeng centre on April 21 was reflective of the “harsh treatment… and mismanagement of the camps by immigration and Rela authorities”.

Fernandez also cited a local television report which alleged the involvement of enforcement officers in trafficking men, women and children from the refugee community during the deportation process to the Thailand border.

“(This) smacks of embedded corruption and blatant arrogance and abuse of power of the enforcement agencies,” she said.

“To date, the home minister has not made public the investigations carried out on these agencies and what steps are being taken to make them accountable.”

‘Increase in arrests’

She claimed that arrests, abuse and sale of refugees have increased, causing even greater fear of “this form of state violence and repression”.

 “Why are we arresting them and selling them as slaves or threatening them with deportation to Burma when we know that their lives will be at great risk, even of death? Is this not brutally inhuman?

“Knowing very well the deep political crisis in Burma and now, with the catastrophe (caused by) Cyclone Nargis …We should start our humanitarian response to the refugees here by stopping arrests of all refugees and going further to recognise them as refugees.”

rohingya refugeesTenaganita also urged Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to investigate the continued abuse and alleged trafficking of refugees, as well as complaints of corruption and other reports against Rela and immigration officials.

“It is only in recognising the truth and acting to redress the intense human rights violations perpetrated against the refugee community that we can regain our humanity as a nation,” she added.

Cyclone Nargis, which struck the Irrawaddy delta in Burma on May 2, has caused extensive destruction. At least 30,000 people have died and 1.5 million are in desperate need of food, water and shelter.

Malaysia is among countries that have sent essential supplies to Burma to help with immediate relief efforts.

 Meanwhile, Amnesty International Malaysia calls on the government to review its policy on the non-recognition of Burmese refugees in this country.

“The government in its response to provide assistance to Burma must not ignore its responsibility and commitment to the rights and humanitarian needs of thousands of refugees who fled human rights violations and persecution in Burma seeking protection right here in our country,” said Amnesty campaign coordinator K Shan.

“The Malaysian government must take note that Burmese refugees continue to face arrest, detention, prosecution and deplorable living conditions here in Malaysia as a result of the government’s refusal to recognise and protect refugees and to treat them as illegal immigrants.”

 

Burmese refugees face wretched existence

Malaysiakini

Living in miserable camps not far from the glittering Petronas Twin Towers, Burmese refugees are some of the most wretched of the hundreds of thousands who have fled their homeland.]

 “We are living here like prisoners, we cannot go out anywhere because we are frightened,” says 35-year-old James Munerlian, a Christian pastor from Burma’s Chin state who fled persecution by the military regime.

Munerlian is the leader of a 100-strong group of men, women and children who live a precarious existence in a secret encampment in one of the patches of jungle that still remain among Kuala Lumpur’s suburbs.

The half-hour trek there takes a visitor past an almost completed luxury housing project, over hilly and mosquito-infested terrain, through an illegal rubbish damp and across a riverbed reeking with sewage.

In a clearing, the Chin refugees huddle into eight huts made with sheets of zinc and cardboard, and draped with pieces of plastic.

They escaped Burma on foot in the hope of finding a better life, but instead are exploited by unscrupulous employers and harassed by Malaysia’s controversial volunteer security corps which hunts down illegal migrants.

Michael Boak Tun Thang, a 26-year-old farmer from northern Chin state, came to Malaysia in early 2006 and has been hiding in various jungle camps ever since.

“The junta came to my village with rifles. Because there were only a few men, they ordered all the boys and also the women to become porters and carry their foods and boxes,” he says.

“They raped all the women, even my sister, but I could not do anything. We carried the heavy things but they never paid us or gave us any meals.”

Late one night, Tun Thang was freed by men from a nearby village, but the last time he saw his sister she was a walking skeleton and he has not heard from her since.

Refugee advocates say the camp is just one of hundreds in the capital and around the country that have sprung up in patches of jungles, near agricultural plantations and on the fringes of coastal villages.

Some luckier ones have managed to find cheap housing, and live packed a dozen to a room.

“Malaysia has become one of the worst places for Burmese asylum seekers because of the way the government and its enforcers have brutalised and abused refugees,” says Debbie Stothard from human rights group Altsean Burma.

“Large groups of refugees are in hiding around the country and they are penniless and desperate,” she adds, using Burma’s former name.

United States data in 2006 listed Burma as the world’s third largest source of refugees after Afghanistan and Iraq, with at least 700,000 people having fled the country.

“Ten years ago, Burmese refugees were unheard of in most Asian countries with the exception of Thailand which shares a very porous border with the country,” Stothard says.

“But today, the situation is so bad that there are large numbers of refugees escaping to China, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

“Many of these refugees end up being illegal migrants because the Burmese government does not provide passports to most of its people and refuse to recognise them as citizens if they leave the country illegally.”

Living on the run

The Malaysian government says there are about 25,644 Burmese asylum-seekers in the country but refugee groups believe the real figure is more than double that.

The majority are Rohingya Muslims from Burma’s Rakhine state while the rest are Christian Chins, Karens and Shan.

In the Chin jungle camp, they knew nothing of the massive September street protests, led by Buddhist monks, in Burma’s main city Rangoon which were violently suppressed by the regime, triggering international outrage.

Chin Refugee Centre coordinator Paul Lian says most Burmese refugees in Malaysia work illegally on building sites or plantations and face beatings, extortion and exploitation from employers.

“The groups are in very bad shape as they have no money, no food and fear for their safety,” he says, adding that as they have no rights they are either not paid at all or given a pittance.

Another camp dweller, 43-year-old Peter Thant Tum who has been on the run for the past three years, just wants a chance at leading a normal life.

“If the Malaysia government has consideration, please give us legal documents and allow us to work, to earn money and eat, our lives will be more happy,” he says.

However, Malaysia is already fending off a mass influx of Indonesian workers – both legal and illegal – and has no intention of allowing Burmese refugees to make their home here too.

“The impact on our country in many terms will be great if we open our doors and declare these foreigners as refugees,” Foreign Affairs parliamentary secretary Ahmad Shabery Cheek was quoted as saying recently.

“If we provide illegal immigrants… with jobs, our own people will lose out in employment opportunities.”

Beaten senseless

Crackdowns on illegal migrants are carried out by the volunteer Rela corps, a notorious uniformed brigade accused of rampant human rights abuses.

“We don’t have any security, our brothers they go to the market but then the Rela men, they stop us and they demand money,” Thant Tum says.

“They don’t want to arrest us because they know they will have to feed us and take care of us so they only demand money from us and beat us very badly.”

Just days after speaking to AFP, Thant Tum says Rela officers stopped him at a market and demanded the money he had on him – RM100 – which was the camp’s weekly food budget. He refused and was beaten senseless.

“It is outrageous and tragic that many of these refugees who fled brutality and torture in Burma should now have to put up with extortion from Rrla. How can we accept this?” asks Stothard.

Rela’s Kuala Lumpur director Mohammad Aminuddin Mohammad Yusof says the force does not condone acts of brutality and corruption.

“Our men are there to help immigration authorities detain illegal immigrants and overstayers so our first duty is to detain these individuals, not extort money from them,” he said.

“There might be such cases of abuse because Rela is a volunteer force but give us evidence of these corrupt acts and details and we will investigate and prosecute the offenders.”

 

Cyclone Nargis photo gallery from YAHOO! Part 1

Cyclone Nargis photo gallery from YAHOO! Part 1

YAHOO!

Survivors of the cyclone Nargis eat a meal in Bogalay. Top foreign ...

Survivors of the cyclone Nargis eat a meal in Bogalay. Top foreign officials headed Wednesday to Myanmar to press the defiant junta to open the doors to a massive cyclone relief effort for two million increasingly desperate survivors(AFP/Khin Maung Win)

Rice is transported for a distribution for the survivors of ...

Rice is transported for a distribution for the survivors of the cyclone Nargis in Bogalay. Top foreign officials headed Wednesday to Myanmar to press the defiant junta to open the doors to a massive cyclone relief effort for two million increasingly desperate survivors(AFP/Khin Maung Win)

Survivors of the cyclone Nargis stand under their shelter set ...

Survivors of the cyclone Nargis stand under their shelter set up on the side of a road in Bogalay. Top foreign officials headed Wednesday to Myanmar to press the defiant junta to open the doors to a massive cyclone relief effort for two million increasingly desperate survivors(AFP/Khin Maung Win)

Survivors of the cyclone Nargis queue for relief supplies in ...

Survivors of the cyclone Nargis queue for relief supplies in Bogalay. Top foreign officials headed Wednesday to Myanmar to press the defiant junta to open the doors to a massive cyclone relief effort for two million increasingly desperate survivors(AFP/Khin Maung Win)

Survivors of the cyclone Nargis are seen among wreckage in Kyaiklat. ...

Survivors of the cyclone Nargis are seen among wreckage in Kyaiklat. Top foreign officials headed Wednesday to Myanmar to press the defiant junta to open the doors to a massive cyclone relief effort for two million increasingly desperate survivors(AFP/Khin Maung Win)

Myanmar cyclone survivors grab a free banana from a local donor ...

Myanmar cyclone survivors grab a free banana from a local donor on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, on Wednesday May 14, 2008.(AP Photo)

Myanmar cyclone survivors line up to receive food and water ...

Myanmar cyclone survivors line up to receive food and water from local donors on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, on Wednesday May 14, 2008.(AP Photo)

A Myanmar family stands in front of their house damaged from ...

A Myanmar family stands in front of their house damaged from Cyclone Nargis on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, on Wednesday May 14, 2008.(AP Photo)

A Myanmar monk walks next to the roof of a temple damaged from ...

A Myanmar monk walks next to the roof of a temple damaged from Cyclone Nargis, on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, on Wednesday May 14, 2008.(AP Photo)