Tue, 08 Mar 2005

From: Reuters

KL detains Myanmar refugee protesters

MALAYSIA: Malaysian police detained about two dozen Myanmar refugees on Monday for protesting outside the office of the UN refugee agency to demand speedy resettlement, witnesses and officials said.

Women and children were among the protesters, from the Rohingya ethnic group, who held up posters reading, "We need immediate protection", and "We want speedy resettlement", before police bundled them away, witnesses said.

Rights groups and the UN refugee agency fear a drive by Malaysia to deport illegal migrants, which began this month, puts refugees and asylum-seekers at risk of being returned to countries where they may suffer detention or torture.

"They have been arrested because of what was considered an unlawful demonstration," Volker Turk, country representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said.

"Of course we protested on their behalf, but immigration authorities have taken them away to verify their status and have said they will release those who are found to be refugees." --Reuters