Published on Sunday, 09 June 2013 10:56
Dozens of migrant workers were arrested by the Malaysian police on Wednesday, a day after the Myanmar government urged Malaysia to investigate recent attacks made on its citizens working in the country.
The Malaysian police forcefully rounded up Myanmar workers in the areas where most of them reside, including Ampang and Selayang districts and Cheras, sub-urban area of Kula Lumpur, according to witness accounts.
"This is an unfair act by the Malaysian government on Myanmar workers. They are trying to fight fire with fire," said Min Min, a Myanmar worker living in Malaysia.
The arrests came after a series of separate attacks targeting Myanmar nationals at the end of May leaving four dead and others injured. The attacks are widely viewed to be in retaliation for the communal violence that has affected Muslim communities living in Myanmar and threatens to worsen sectarian tensions.
Another Myanmar worker, Maung Maung confirmed the news and saying that many migrant workers were targeted by the police whether they had work permits or not.
"A lot of people were arrested in the area where Myanmar shops are located this morning [Wednesday morning]. The police only used to arrest the people on the street before but now they even went inside shops and arrested them. People who were eating in the restaurants and those who were having their haircuts in barbershops were arrested," said another Myanmar worker who did not want to be identified.
"We want officials from the Myanmar Embassy to handle the rough treatments by the Malaysian government on Myanmar workers," he added.
According to the Reuters news agency, Kula Lumpur's deputy police chief Amar Singh Ishar Singh said that the police had to setup a special task force to deal with the violence in Kuala Lumpur and had arrested about 60 Myanmar immigrants this week in an attempt to control tensions.
A Myanmar female worker said she and her co-workers had to stay inside the factory while the factory owner allowed the men to stand on guard holding sticks.
"We have to defend ourselves. If the situation gets worse, I'll go back to Myanmar," she said.
Rough and unfair treatment of Myanmar migrant workers are common occurrences in countries such as Malaysia and Thailand as migrants are often victims of extortion by employers can who often exploit their vulnerable position.
"Even though the Malaysian police said they are investigating everyone, they seem to only target Myanmar workers. We're used to such kind of treatments. They bully Myanmar workers even when the Myanmar football came to Malaysia and won against the Malaysian team. They know that most of the Myanmar workers have overstay visas so they extort money from the workers whenever they want," said a Myanmar worker in Kula Lumpur.
"In this case, it's quite clear that they did it on purpose. People with weaknesses will have to suffer. I feel bad after hearing about these arrests," he added.
According to Malaysian media, four Myanmar nationals have been murdered in Selayang district in separate incidents since May 30.
During the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum on East Asia, Myanmar Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wunna Maung Lwin told The Daily Eleven that they have already informed the Malaysian government through diplomatic means to protect the security of Myanmar nationals living in Malaysia.
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