Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Refugee Nation

Malaysia is not a member to the U.N. Convention on Refugee Status 1951 and Protocol 1867, and does not intend to sign a UN pact recognizing or protecting refugees within her borders. This immediately classifies all refugees as illegal immigrants (together with undocumented workers and asylum seekers), which explains their constant harassment, detention, and deportation. The sad and tragic truth is, many of these refugees have been playing cat and mouse with the authorities – particularly Rela - and some have even been born here, with no country to call their own, but the squatter colonies to call home.

But Malaysia is a signatory to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, which ironically allows all children born here to acquire nationality. Since their parents are illegal immigrants and foreigners, their birth certs are stamped orang asing (foreigner).

That’s something to mull over as Malaysia celebrates her 50th birthday.

Malaysian Aris Oziar has moved from mulling to making a difference. Visit his blog Fifty Refugees which documents the stories of 50 illegal immigrants on our shores. So the next time you’re tempted to complain about traffic jams, remember their stories. If you think we have it bad, they are having it worse.

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