Solidarity Day with migrants

Solidarity Day with migrants

Posted on December 19th, 2008 by Nathaniel Tan

The Star:

ABOUT 1,300 illegal foreigners have died during detention in the past six years, Malaysia Nanban quoted Malaysian Human Rights (Suhakam) commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam as saying.

He said many of them died in immigration detention centres, prisons and police lockups because they were denied medical treatment at the right time.

He proposed that a doctor and a medical assistant be appointed in each detention camp and prison which should have the necessary facilities to transfer sick prisoners to hospitals during an emergency.

I’m sad, I’m angry, and I’m almost at a loss for words.

I keep thinking how most of humanity’s history has been that of migration. We don’t leave homes at a whim or fancy; things are usually pretty bad before vast groups of people decide to leave their homelands for strange lands.

Having done some work with refugees, I’ve heard some heartbreaking tales. Some of these end with a marginally better life here in Malaysia – albeit one with constant harassment. For these 1,300, I guess it ended in further tragedy :(

In my last post, I forgot to write about one more event I attended briefly on Sunday after lunch – a Solidarity Day for Migrants held in Brickfields, organised by Tenaganita and some other migration organisations.

One of the main themes was “No human is illegal.” A good point which the press have consistently failed to pick up on (see above).

The event was a celebration of a truly rich diversity of cultures that has come to our shores, and one of those relatively rare opportunities for those who mostly clean up in coffeeshops or labour to build KL to showcase their heritage and express their arts.

The mood there was exuberant, and to me spoke of the rarity of opportunity such people get to get together in good cheer and enjoy happy festivity in good company.

The performances were a lot of fun… :)

At the risk of sounding a bit morbid, I really hope none of these people end up dead in some detention center.



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