This report by The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) provides first hand testimony from Rohingya who have been subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, violence, extortion, human trafficking and forced labour in Malaysia.
The report reveals for the first time the patterns of movement by Rohingya across South East Asia, providing an unprecedented insight into the cycle of flight, detention and deportation which affects tens of thousands of Rohingya in the region. According to the ERT findings:
- An estimated 25-32,000 Rohingya live in Malaysia and between 90 and 115 Rohingya are in detention in Malaysia at any one time;
- A combination of factors – including common religion, economic prosperity and the chance to acquire even basic identity documents – draw thousands of Rohingya to Malaysia, despite the fact that they remain under constant threat of arrest, detention and deportation;
- Rohingya arrested in Malaysia are often detained for months in inadequate conditions with little access to healthcare. Those convicted of immigration offences can face up to 4 months imprisonment and corporal punishment, which is still a legal penalty in Malaysia;
- Until recently, Malaysian immigration officials routinely sold deportees to human traffickers at the Thai-Malay border, who then either demanded payment from victims’ families to release them and transport them illegally back to Malaysia, or re-sold them as bonded labourers on fishing boats or in plantations.