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ICC NOTE: Rohingya Muslims are one of the most oppressed religious minorities in the world as they continue to face persecution from the government and military in Burma. For those who make the difficult journey of leaving Burma, many find themselves in various other Southeast Asian countries where they placed in detention centers. Recently, the United Nations called for the immediate release of those in detention in Malaysia as they are considered asylum seekers. Thousands in the region have fled for better lands from Burma to Vietnam attempting to escape religious persecution. Many Christians in Burma and Vietnam have attempted to flee from persecution with many Vietnamese finding themselves turn away in Cambodia. 

6/10/2016 Malaysia (Asia News) – Rohingya refugees held in Malaysian detention centres must be released immediately and the governments involved must take charge of them, this according to Richard Towle, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Malaysian representative.

For the UN official, for the refugees to be looked after adequately, they must first be released from detention. He spoke at the launch of Odysseys: A Photographic Exhibition of the Asia and Europe refugee crises by Agence France-Presse(AFP) in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, centred on the refugee crisis in the Andaman Sea/Bay of Bengal in May 2015.

More than 3,000 people, mostly from Myanmar, along with migrant workers from Bangladesh, were rescued at sea off the coast of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand last year.

Their fate took a turn for the worse when Thailand cracked down on migrants after a mass grave containing the bodies of scores of Rohingya was found near the border with Malaysia, and Indonesia and Malaysia boosted their refoulement policy.

Towle noted that of the 371 Rohingya refugees accepted into Malaysia last year, 36 have been resettled to the United States and the rest are still languishing in detention centres. Yet, as of April this year, there are 53,410 Rohingya refugees registered with the UNHCR in Malaysia.

Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority that is not recognised nor accepted in Myanmar. Every year, thousands of people try to escape the violence that often characterise their relations with the country’s Buddhist majority.

Currently there are more than 150,000 asylum seekers in Malaysia, the UNHCR Malaysian representative noted, and more are expected.

Almost 140,000 refugees and asylum-seekers are from Myanmar, with the rest coming from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Palestine.

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