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Burmese refugees in Malaysia abused, handcuffed, victims of profiteers
ICC Note:
Burmese refugees are suffering in Malaysia refugee centers – “handcuffed in prison-like conditions.” These refugees, many of whom are Christian, were all forced to flee Burma to escapse the abuses of the military junta. Now they are treated like criminals.
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2/27/09 Burma (AsiaNews) Hundreds of Burmese are being held in remote Malaysian refugee centres, locked up and handcuffed in prison-like conditions. Relatives and friends are forced to be body searched and registered; unscrupulous merchants sell goods at exorbitant prices; women are abused, humiliated and forced to strip in front of guards. All of the refugees had to flee their homeland to escape abuses by the ruling military junta.

One source working for an NGO that is in touch with the refugees spoke to AsiaNews about one such centre, describing its horrors.
“It took us about four hours to reach there,” said the source, who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons. “It is situated in a very remote area where public transport is not made available. [. . . ] I gave my handset and identity card to the officers whereas my friends gave their passport and handset.”
This was followed by a body check by a female officer, and a statement to a counter officer that included “the name, sex and also body number” of the person visitors wanted to see.

“Laughing while quoting” fares, the profiteer said that he was “so experienced that he could tell me how long an inmate had been detained. That shows how much he seems to know things in the centre; he seems to know everyone, from the officers to the detainees.”
“When I told him that prices were too high he told to keep quiet, otherwise prisoners might pays for my remarks.”
The stories refugees had to tell depict a world with harsh rules. Women are forced to “undress and squat”; are “humiliated and embarrassed”; forced to go topless like the men because not allowed to cover themselves.
“There are about 100 people to a room and not everyone has a blanket. Is that how we treat a person” who has fled his or her country without papers?
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