The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing crackdown on all undocumented migrants in Malaysia and urgently calls on the newly installed Malaysian government to immediately cease this national operation.
The operations called “Ops Mega 3.0” will arrest undocumented migrant workers and their respective employers, slap them with fines up to 50,000 Malaysian ringgit (USD12,450), and have them committed to five-year imprisonment with six cane strokes. This operation was enacted on July 1, one day after the rehiring programme was concluded.
Recent news reports have pegged the number of arrested migrants to 20,000 as well as employers and this is expected to balloon with the Immigration Director-General’s pronouncement to continue with the crackdown.
Malaysia has gained notoriety for its long record of human rights violations committed against migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. As problems of debt bondage, labor trafficking, contract violations, and even exploitation by brokers and agencies confront migrants, the Malaysian government has not provided a sufficient mechanism for redress for migrants nor has it improved problematic immigrant and visa regulations and processes for them.
The gruesome death of 21-year old Indonesian domestic worker Adelina Lisao in February exposes the criminal neglect of the Malaysian government to the plight of migrants there.
Past crackdowns by the Malaysian government have not resolved the growing number of undocumented migrants in the country. Instead of substantively addressing and finding solutions as to how and why migrants become and remain undocumented in Malaysia, the Malaysian government has only intensified over the years the arrest, detention and deportation of migrants, subjecting them to inhumane conditions and placing them in great harm, even death.
No migrant wants to be illegal. Undocumented or irregular migration is the result of migrants fleeing or trying to survive from multiple forms of exploitation. It is the only way out for migrants who bear the brunt of the crisis of neoliberal globalization.
The IMA fully supports and joins the Malaysian Bar, Tenaganita and all civil society in Malaysia and across the world calling on the Malaysian government to stop Ops Mega 3.0. The Malaysian Bar is correct in saying that “a significant number of migrants are undocumented for no fault of their own” and should not be blamed and punished. We hope that other members of Malaysian civil society will rethink their decision to support the government’s crackdown and instead join the call to uphold and protect migrants’ rights.
The Malaysian government should cease the crackdown on migrants immediately. In addition, it should call for a national investigation involving civil society, especially grassroots migrant organizations that shall look into the current conditions of the more than six million migrants residing and working in the country and find long-term solutions.
Malaysia has signed and agreed to many international labor and human rights conventions, including the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers. It should uphold and domesticate policies in adherence to these conventions, for the crackdown is definitely a step-back and violation of any human right is already one too many.
The IMA calls on all its member organizations worldwide to issue their respective letters of concern regarding this issue and, depending on their capacity, hold actions in front of the Malaysian embassies in their respective areas.
We shall closely follow this development as we coordinate with our members, partners and friends in Malaysia for possible initiatives to support the call to uphold migrants’ rights and end the crackdown.
Uphold the rights, welfare and dignity of undocumented migrants!
Stop criminalization of migrants!
Stop the crackdown on migrants!
Stop the arrest, detention and deportation of migrants!
Reference: Eni Lestari, chairperson
For more information about the crackdown, please refer to these newslinks –
1. Malaysia cracks down on illegal workers (The Daily Star)
2. Malaysia urged to stop crackdown (The Daily Star)
3. Crackdown on illegal immigrants will continue: Immigration DG(New Straits Times)
You may also look into these –
1. ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers
2. The Bangkok Declaration on Irregular Migration