Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Slow action made Malaysia complicit in murders?

NGO: Malaysia 'guilty' of Myanmar killings


An international Myanmar activist finds it quite shocking that the Penang police have not immediately responded to the killings of Myanmar nationals, which has been taking place since January.

"Is it because they are inefficient, slow to act because it involves migrants and asylum-seekers?" Altsean-Burma coordinator Debbie Stothard asked in an interview with Malaysiakini.

"These murders and the murderers deserve to be condemned and prosecuted," said Stothard, who is also International Federation for Human Rights secretary-general.

So far 18 Myanmar nationals have been killed, with their body parts dismembered, while police have arrested 17 people in connection with the murders.

Last Friday, police raided a house on Jalan Kampung Pisang, Bukit Mertajam, believed to be where the slaughtering of the Myanmarese took place.

Malaysiakini visited the crime scene on Monday, and found many of the villagers living in fear of the gruesome incidents in their neighbourhood.

While the authorities did not rule out revenge, they have denied that the killings were due to religious conflicts.

It is learnt that the killings have been taking place since January this year but police responded publicly only after English daily The Malay Mail reported on the spate of killings on Sept 18.

Stothard said migrants and asylum seekers in Malaysia were hardly convinced of the importance of the rule of law due to the way they were treated.

"When people feel they cannot rely on local authorities to protect them from violence and discrimination, it becomes easy to create a vigilante response," she said.

Malaysia is also guilty of allowing Myanmar to perpetuate "an extreme system of impunity and violence" on its own people, Stothard said.

Revenge murders an acceptable response?

This system encourages its people to think that revenge murders are an acceptable response to the genocidal situation faced by the Rohingya community, she added.

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority persecuted for decades in Myanmar, have been fleeing the country, seeking asylum in Malaysia and elsewhere.

Stothard called on Malaysia to be courageous enough to take a firm stand on combatting the violence in Burma and insisting on the protection of civilians from all backgrounds.

Most ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Rohingya, Kachin, Chin and Muslims from other ethnic groups, have no hope of protection against violence in Myanmar, she added.

Thousands of them have been killed, kidnapped, raped or have disappeared without any trace, she noted.

She said the Rakhine Action Plan, promoted as a solution to the problems in Arakan state, did not help either.

It will see up to a million Rohingya locked up in camps indefinitely, while another 100,000 of them  will be given third class citizenship and forced to live in segregated "freedom", she added.

Malaysia and the rest of the Aseam countries will bear the consequences of their decades-long reluctance to deal honestly with conflict and systematic and widespread violations in Burma, she said.

"If migrants and asylum seekers feel safe and respected, it becomes easier for them to prevent and constrain violence in the community," she said.

"These murders are deeply shocking, but not surprising. In some ways, the behaviour of our regional governments made them inevitable.

"Persecuting more asylum-seekers will not make things any better. It will only increase the conviction that the system cannot be relied on for protection," Stothard added.

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