Malaysian PM announces asylum provisions for refugee Uyghurs
- Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamed indicated that the country would not honor extradition requests from China for Uyghurs fleeing persecution.
- The announcement follows a statement from the foreign minister indicating that an inquiry into human rights violations in the Xinjiang region of China.
- Hundreds took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to protest the ongoing incarceration of more than a million Uyghur Muslims in “political re-education” camps in northwest China.
“Malaysia not to extradite Uighurs seeking asylum” (Andalou Agency | December 2019)
“Malaysia to probe rights violations against Uighurs” (Andalou Agency | December 2019)
“In KL, hundreds of Muslims protest against China’s treatment of Uighurs” (Malay Mail | December 2019)
The Hardships of Refugees in Malaysia
Although Malaysia has long offered refuge to persecuted Muslim populations, Malaysian law does not distinguish between asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. As a consequence, refugees experience high levels of legal precarity, severely limiting access to healthcare, employment, and educational opportunities. Immigration police frequently raid businesses in search of undocumented workers, and children are frequently pushed into work because of an educational system with limited resources to accommodate them. While more than 164,000 refugees in Malaysia are officially registered with the UN Refugee Agency, many more languish in the long registration queue. Today, activists are working to pressure the recently installed government to become a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol to improve protections and access to opportunity for those seeking life and livelihood in the wake of war and persecution.
“‘We have nothing’: A life in limbo for Malaysia’s Yemeni refugees” (Al Jazeera | March 2019)
“Inside Malaysia’s ‘Living Hell’ for Refugee Children” (NewsDeeply | February 2018)
UNHCR Figures at a Glance in Malaysia
More than 10 killed, dozens wounded in Indonesian church bombings
- A family of six—including young children—launched coordinated suicide bombings at three church sites in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city.
- Targeting a Catholic church, a Pentecostal church, and the Indonesian Christian Church, the attacks left at least 13 dead and 40 wounded.
- The attack came as the Islamic State has stepped up recruitment in the Southeast Asia region, with police reporting that the family was among the 500 Islamic State sympathizers returning from Syria.
“IS-linked family responsible for Surabaya bombings, police say” (The Jakarta Post | May 2018)
“Family of IS-inspired suicide bombers attack Indonesian churches, at least 13 dead” (Reuters | May 2018)
“Indonesia attacks: How Islamic State is galvanising support” (BBC News | May 2018)
Evidence of Rohingya massacre by security forces deepens crisis in Myanmar
- The Associated Press uncovered evidence of a military-led mass killing of a Rohingya community in late August that left at least 75 and as many as 400 dead.
- The report detailed documentary evidence of at least five mass graves in and near the village of Gu Dar Pyin along with videos and survivor reports of acid use to attempt to cover up the massacre.
- While the Burmese government insists it is only targeting “terrorists” and denies mass killings, the international community is facing growing pressure to declare ongoing state violence against the Rohingya a genocide.
“AP finds evidence for graves, Rohingya massacre in Myanmar” (The Associated Press | February 2018)
“Evidence of Rohingya mass graves uncovered in Myanmar” (Al Jazeera | February 2018)
“Myanmar denies report of new mass graves in Rakhine” (Reuters | February 2018)
Singaporean gay man denied adoption rights for biological child
- A Singapore court ruled against a man seeking to adopt his biological son mothered by a surrogate in the U.S.
- The man, currently in a same-sex relationship, pursued international surrogacy due to his remote chances at adoption in Singapore, where male same-sex relations are still illegal.
- Surrogacy is prohibited and in-vitro services available only to married couples in Singapore, leading many Singaporean couples both same- and different-sex couples to seek assisted reproduction services abroad.
“Singapore court rejects gay man’s bid to adopt biological son” (NBC News | December 2017)
“More Singapore couples seeking surrogacy services” (The Straits Times | December 2017)
“Gay Singaporean loses bid to adopt biological son fathered via surrogate” (Agence France-Presse, via AsiaOne | December 2017)
Reporters arrested in Myanmar following Rohingya coverage
- Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on the outskirts of Yangon after working on stories related to the military crackdown on the Rohingya community in Rakhine state.
- The Ministry of Information said the reporters faced charges of violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act for having “illegally acquired information” for dissemination to foreign media.
- The event has prompted international condemnation, including by the United Nations, foreign governments, international journalism organizations, and press freedom advocates.
“Factbox: International reaction to arrest of Reuters reporters in Myanmar” (Reuters | December 2017)
“Analysis: Government Turning Back the Clock on Press Freedom” (The Irrawaddy | December 2017)
“UN chief calls on Myanmar to release Reuters journalists” (CNN | December 2017)
More than a half-million Rohingya flee violence in Myanmar
- Since August, nearly 520,000 Rohingya have crossed the border from their homes in Myanmar into Bangladesh, and dozens—many of them children—have died attempting to reach Bangladesh by boat.
- Refugees spoke of attacks by the military and Buddhist vigilantes, including the burning of villages and physical assaults throughout the state of Rakhine.
- The U.N. has condemned the violence as “ethnic cleansing” on the part of the Burmese state, which targeted Rohingya communities following an attack by Rohingya militants on a military outpost.
“‘I can’t take this any more:’ Rohingya Muslims flee Myanmar in new surge” (Reuters | October 2017)
“Rohingya crisis: Children die as boat capsizes off Bangladesh” (BBC News | October 2017)
“Bangladesh to build one of world’s largest refugee camps for 800,000 Rohingya” (The Guardian | October 2017)
Filipino Christians in Muslim-majority Marawi caught up in Mindanao violence
- Clashes between Islamist militants and Philippine soldiers in Marawi City have displaced as much as 90% of the city’s population.
- Militants have torched churches and reportedly taken hostages in the fight against the government, the extension of decades of conflict driven by increased Christian settlement in the region, the desire for more political autonomy by Moro (Muslim) liberation groups, and the rise of international terrorist organizations like the Islamic State.
- While the Philippine population as a whole is 90% Christian, Muslims comprise the majority of the population in Marawi City, located on the Philippines’ second-largest island, Mindanao.
“Christians caught up in Philippines’ urban battle with Islamists” (Reuters | May 2017)
“‘They kill defenceless people’: thousands flee Philippine city of Marawi” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Mindanao crisis: A city on fire” (Al Jazeera | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Erik De Castro/Reuters)
More than 100 arrested and 2 publicly flogged as Indonesian authorities target gay men
- Jakarta police confirmed that 141 men had been rounded up at a sauna party and jailed, subject to pornography charges.
- In the conservative province of Aceh, two men, aged 20 and 23, were subject to public whippings after having been caught having sex, a new application of religious provincial law in a country that does not officially criminalize same-sex relations.
- Increased anti-gay sentiment in the country is seen as part of a rising wave of hardline Islamism in the country, which has in recent years been praised for its secular, relatively liberal social gains.
“Indonesian police arrest more than 140 men at alleged gay sauna party” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Two men publicly caned in Indonesia for having gay sex” (Reuters | May 2017)
“Indonesian men caned for gay sex in Aceh” (BBC News | May 2017)
(Image Credit: via BBC News)
Jakarta’s Christian governor of Chinese descent sentenced to prison for blasphemy
- Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was sentenced to two years in prison after having accused political opponents of using a verse from the Qur’an to mobilize opposition to his re-election.
- His remarks drew massive protests in the Muslim-majority country and a religiously charged vote for the Jakarta governorship in April, where he lost to Muslim rival Anies Baswedan.
- Judges cited fundamentalist religious groups in the ruling, shocking observers with a prison sentence for Ahok because he “did not feel guilt.”
“Jakarta governor Ahok sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Jakarta’s Christian Governor Ahok jailed for two years for blasphemy” (The Sydney Morning Herald | May 2017)
“Jakarta’s former governor Ahok dropping appeal against jail sentence for blasphemy” (ABC | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Antara/Pool/Sigid Kurniawan, via The Jakarta Post)
North Korea and Malaysia institute exit bans on each other’s citizens
- North Korea’s frustration at Malaysia’s handling of the investigation into the murder of the half-brother of leader Kim Jong Un led to the announcement of a ban on the departure of Malaysian nationals from the country.
- Malaysian PM Najib Razak responded by initially banning the departure of North Korean diplomatic staff before extending it to all North Koreans.
- Two people—an Indonesian woman and a Vietnamese woman—have been charged in the homicide, though they claim they believed to have been taking part in a prank.
“Kim Jong-nam death: Malaysia and N Korea in tit-for-tat exit bans” (BBC News | March 2017)
“North Korea, Malaysia’s diplomatic ties frayed over Kim Jong Nam’s death” (CNN | March 2017)
“Malaysia says talks on with North Korea for return of nine citizens” (Reuters | March 2017)
(Image Credit: Lai Seng Sin/Reuters)
Christmas for the Vulnerable Christians of the World
Source: Al Jazeera YouTube
One of the most important days in the Christian holiday canon, Christmas is celebrated by the devout, the lapsed, and the unbelieving alike as a time of gift-giving, decorating, and shared cheer. However, many of the worlds Christians, minorities in their communities, continue to face persecution as religious-extremist, nationalist, and other reactionary forces gain footholds around the world. From Indonesia to Egypt, religiously diverse societies have experienced increased sectarian tensions as parallel forces—anti-Christian sentiment and Islamophobia—have disrupted what was once stable co-existence. This roundup takes a look at recent developments in the plight faced by some of the most vulnerable Christians around the world. Continue reading Global Event | Christmas
The Uncertain Twilight of Singapore’s Pioneer Generation
Singapore’s “Pioneer Generation,” those born early enough to witness the birth of the nation, has begun to advance a so-called “silver tsunami” that has challenged a wealthy Southeast Asian city-state renowned for the relatively high standard of living of its citizens. “Re-employment” policies have pushed seniors to remain in the workforce past retirement age, but their concentration in low-wage work has at times created conflict between health, financial, and labor imperatives. As healthcare costs grow while wages remain low, seniors, less educated relative to younger generations, face difficult options in a society that prides itself on individual responsibility and contributions to the nation’s economic progress. The Guardian examines the plight of Singaporean seniors and the evolving challenges they face upon approaching and surpassing retirement age.
“Singapore’s ‘silver tsunami’: how the city-state depends on its elderly workforce” (The Guardian)
(Image Credit: Bloomberg/Getty Images, via The Guardian)
Dutch government announces inquiry into violent twilight of colonialism in Indonesia
- Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced an investigation into the violent conflict between the Dutch military and Indonesians that took place from 1945 to 1949.
- The Dutch government has begun to admit to a host of war crimes during the colonial war including mass killings, torture, and summary executions, with the conflict having brought about the death of at least 100,000 Indonesians.
- Indonesia was a Dutch colony from 1800 to 1949 and is widely recognized as having contributed significantly to the contemporary wealth of the western European nation.
“Dutch cabinet agrees to fund research into violence in Indonesia” (DutchNews)
“Dutch government backs new inquiry into colonial Indonesia” (Reuters)
“Indonesian National Revolution Photos the Dutch Army Didn’t Want You to See” (The Creators Project, January 2016)
“Colonial atrocities explode myth of Dutch tolerance” (The Independent, May 1994)
(Image Credit: NIOD, via The Creators Project)