All migrants, survivors of human trafficking, asylum seekers and refugees should be treated with humanity and respect for their basic human rights and dignity, says the Penang Stop Human Traffcking Campaign.
We, the undersigned civil societies and non-governmental organisations in Penang, in solidarity with human trafficking survivors newly arrived on Malaysia’s shores, and those to be rescued from the Andaman Sea, appeal to all parties at all levels, including state and federal authorities, to treat all newly arrived human trafficking survivors with respect and humanity.
As our fellow human beings they should be welcomed with utmost sympathy and empathy for the trauma and painful suffering they have experienced at the hands of unscrupulous governments, and ruthless human traffickers and people smugglers.
We call on federal and state governments to respect their dignity and basic human rights in providing urgent and necessary humanitarian aid and medical treatment to the women, children and men.
As victims of political circumstances who are fleeing to save their lives and those of their children by seeking the safety of Malaysian shores, they should be met with basic humanitarian principles of refuge and protection.
Many of those coming off the boats and swimming ashore are Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers from Rakhine State in Myanmar who face extreme violence and persecution there. Many will have suffered at the hands of human traffickers and other criminals as well.
They should not be treated or labelled illegal immigrants or wrongdoers, as they have no choice but to try and find safety until there is lasting peace, without persecution or discrimination, in their homeland.
We welcome the initiative taken by the Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian governments to start discussions with the Myanmar government towards resolving the conflict in Rakhine state and to tackle the problem of human trafficking and people smuggling.
A lasting peaceful solution to the present conflict is essential for the elimination of mass exodus leading to human trafficking whilst contributing to peace and stability in the region. An AsEAN solution to eliminate human trafficking is urgently needed, to be dealt together with the international community.
It is our view that all migrants, documented and undocumented, as well as survivors of human trafficking, asylum seekers and refugees should be treated with humanity and respect for their basic human rights and dignity.
We therefore call on the federal government to:
- bring the boats presently drifting in the Andaman Sea as quickly as possible to land
stop criminalising newly arrived/rescued undocumented trafficked persons, asylum seekers and refugees but rather treat them with full respect and record their stories and backgrounds as potential evidence against the criminal networks which have brought them here.
- take determined and properly resourced action to bring to justice all human traffickers and those involved in criminal syndicates, their accomplices and agents.
- set up facilities to provide proper shelter, food and all basic necessities, including medical and trauma treatment for survivors of human trafficking, in partnership with refugee communities, non-government organisations and civil society groups, and other concerned parties.
- ratify the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol and by so doing recognise the right of people to seek asylum enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
stop forced repatriation of asylum seekers or refugees in accordance with the universally accepted principle of ‘non-refoulement’.
- eliminate corruption and discrimination which enable human trafficking by syndicates exploiting vulnerable women, children and men.
- launch serious efforts to stop the practice of human trafficking regardless of ethnicity, religion, or nationality.
- take the lead as Chair of Asean and non-permanent member of the UN Security Council to confront the issues in Myanmar and in the region that have given rise to the present situation, finding solutions as a matter of urgency without fear or favour.
In solidarity and recognition of these survivors of human trafficking, we, the undersigned, are committed to working towards making Malaysia a country where discrimination based on race, religion, gender or nationality will be a thing of the past.
We call on all Malaysians to join us in bringing about this change for a more humane Malaysia. supporting true peace in the international community.
- Citizens International
- Persatuan Sahabat Prihatin Pulau Pinang
- Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign
- Suaram Penang