Responding to the news that the Immigration Department and Royal Malaysian Police have carried out massive raids on migrant workers and refugees in Menara City One, Malayan Mansion and other residences in the vicinity currently under Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO), Preethi Bhardwaj, Interim Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia said,
“This mass detention of refugees and migrants is an appalling violation of human rights and the persecution of an already marginalised community. All refugees and migrants, documented or not, have a right to be treated humanely and their right to health protected.”
“This is a clear abuse of power on the part of the authorities. Mass arrests being carried out in the middle of a pandemic are terrible enough, but reports of detainees being cramped into small vans, not provided masks, unable to practise social distancing is equally alarming. Children have also been taken into custody, their protection flagrantly disregarded,” continued Bhardwaj.
“We call on the Malaysian government to immediately end its attack on refugees and migrant workers and treat all people with dignity and respect. During a global public health crisis, detention solely for migration-related reasons is unjustifiable. The authorities must urgently release those detained and focus on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic instead of using it as an excuse to further violate the rights of vulnerable communities.” concluded Bhardwaj.
On 20 April, Minister of Defence Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that eight areas in Kuala Lumpur would be placed under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO).On 1 May hundreds of Immigration Department officers and personnel carried out multiple raids on migrants within residences in Kuala Lumpur, currently under the enhanced movement control order. They were aided by members of the police, armed forces, Health Ministry and the Civil Defence Force (APM). The Immigration Department has yet to issue a statement to justify the raids.
Malaysia has been under the Movement Control Order since 18 March 2020, enacted to combat the spread of COVID-19.