Pushing back boat carrying refugees and scurrilous attack wrong – Statement dd 4/28/2020

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Last Updated April 28, 2020
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On 21 April 2020 , the Ambassador to Malaysia of The European Rohingya Council Tengku Emma Zuriana Bt Tengku Azmi publicly expressed her organisation’s grave disquiet by the Malaysian Navy’s earlier act to push back to sea a boat carrying Rohingyas. This, she justifiably stressed, violated international law obligations to provide access to asylum seekers. Sending them back to a territory where they would be at risk of persecution or serious human rights violations also fell afoul of general international human rights as well as customary international law.

Regretfully, instead of a civil and balanced reasoned discussion or response, her statement was visited upon by a sustained barrage of vitriolic abuse. Which transcended into personal, aggressive, racist and sexist comments. It even incited criminal acts of rape and physical violence against her person.

These vicious attacks go well beyond a considered discussion of the issue. They incite public disorder and undermine morality. This falls foul of the freedom of speech guaranteed by Article 10(2) of the Federal Constitution.

For which reason HAKAM demands that the government, in particular the Attorney General’s Chambers and the MCMC, act firmly and swiftly against the perpetrators of these scurrilous attacks. As well as against the social and main-stream media for carrying out a full scale anti Rohingya campaign based on bigotry and xenophobia.

HAKAM also asks the Government to reverse this pushback policy against refugees consonant with international human rights law and obligations. As the Ambassador suggested, the better course is for Malaysia to quarantine them for health checks preceding their assessment for the grant of refugee status.

The Covid 19 pandemic cannot under any circumstance be a shield for us to lose our sense of humanity and respect for the rule of law.

Dato’ Dr. Gurdial Singh Nijar

President

HAKAM

(National Human Rights Society)

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