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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Report: Parched refugees resort to drinking toilet water, suffer beatings

Parched refugees and asylum seekers detained at Malaysian immigration centres drank toilet water out of desperation, according to a report published in The Guardian.
"They gave us only one small cup of water with our meals, otherwise we had to drink toilet water," 18-year-old Rohingya refugee Mouyura Begum told the UK publication.
Mouyura, who was detained for a year at the Belantik centre in Kedah, also claimed that guards at the detention centre beat the refugees.
“Only when someone was about to die would the guards come. Otherwise, if we complained, or if we asked to go to the hospital, they beat us,” she alleged.
In some cases, the alleged beatings were fatal as claimed by one refugee from Myanmar's Kachin state.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he claimed to have witnessed a Sri Lankan inmate beaten to death.
“But they told us he died because he was sick,” he said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told The Guardian that at least 24 refugees and asylum seekers had died - mostly due to diseases – during detention by the immigration department since 2015.
The Home Ministry said between 2014 and 2016, 161 deaths had occurred in immigration depots.
In a parliamentary reply published this month, the ministry said the largest number of deaths were recorded at the detention camps located in Langkap (40), Bukit Jalil (31) and Lenggeng (28).
Most of the deceased were Myanmarese (73), followed by Indonesians (23) and Bangladeshis (14).
The Home Ministry said the deaths were caused by a range of illnesses, including tuberculosis and HIV.
The spread of disease among the detained immigrants might have been exacerbated by the cramped conditions they were kept in as described by a 19-year-old former detainee, who was held at the Sungai Petani juvenile detention centre in Kedah prior to his release in April.
"We had to sleep on the floor with our knees to our chest,” he told The Guardian.

Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) member Jerald Joseph said the dire conditions were due to lack of resources.
"There is a zeal to take undocumented people off the streets, but then there is a disconnect where there is not enough money or resources to put into the system to avoid torture-like conditions,” he was quoted as saying.
Malaysiakini is contacting Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed for comment on The Guardian report.- Mkini

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