Joint Statement: Stand with the 1086 #Demi1086

Joint Statement: Stand with the 1086 #Demi1086


1,086 shoes and slippers. Many raggedy, scuffed and torn.

Representing the 1,086 Myanmar persons wrested away
from the lives they’d made for themselves in Malaysia.

Challenger Malaysia, MISI: Solidariti, Pemuda Sosialis with support from various other NGOs stand in solidarity with the 1,086 Myanmar nationals that were deported back to Myanmar on the 23rd February 2021, and unequivocally condemn the actions of the Malaysian Immigration Department for doing so. The deportation took place despite a stay of execution of the deportation of the Myanmar nationals issued by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on the morning of the 23rd. Not only that, but the act itself violates the international legal principle of “non-refoulement”.

On this day, 5th March 2021 at Taman Jaya Park, several representatives from the organisations listed above laid out these 1,086 pairs of shoes to demonstrate just how many people — men, women, and even children amongst them as reported by Amnesty International Malaysia — the Malaysian government has potentially condemned, many of whom left Myanmar in search for a better life for themselves and their families.

All these lives cannot simply be reduced to a number, distant and disconnected from reality, so we must take a look at the space each of them would have occupied had they stood here in the flesh as living and breathing individuals. However, even this does not do justice to capturing and representing the humanity of these individuals; these shoes cannot illustrate who they are as people: their hopes, dreams and aspirations that all of us as individuals possess.

We also cannot forget that according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that there were asylum seekers in that group, fleeing violence and persecution from a government that seeks to ethnically cleanse Myanmar — a fact that the Immigration Department explicitly denied about when they said asylum seekers were not included in the 1,086 people deported. In spite of this, Malaysian authorities deported them anyway in what can only be described as an act of unbridled xenophobia.In the spirit of realizing human rights and dignity, we the organisations have a list of four demands:

  • No cooperation with the Tamatdaw government
    • Myanmar’s current Tamatdaw government was installed undemocratically through use of brute force against the wishes of the Myanmar people, and maintains its power through authoritarian means that are often violent and lethal. Malaysia should not be seen to legitimise this government — be it through bilateral agreements or cooperation in any form — due to an implication of tacit approval of their governance.
  • Unequivocal access to immigration detention centres granted to the United Nations
    High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR)

    • The government must allow UNHCR to access immigration detention centres, in order to ascertain those amongst the detained that are specifically vulnerable due to their status as a persecuted minority and grant them the protections that should be rightfully afforded to them under international human rights instruments.
  • Moratorium on deportations, end indefinite and arbitrary detention of all migrants
    • Migrants must no longer be subject to raids, arrests, and detention purely by reason of their immigration status. These practices are inhumane, greatly infringe on the rights of migrants, rob them of their dignity as individuals,
      and subject them to terrible living conditions and even physical and/or verbal abuse, instances of which are well-documented by many human rights organisations in Malaysia.
    • Further to the above, we urge that the Malaysian courts initiate a judicial review against the government, Immigration Director-General Dzaimee Daud and the Home Affairs Ministry for their role in deportation in the coming hearing on 9 March 2021.
  • Full transparency from the Immigration Department of Malaysia
    • The Immigration Department must make data regarding detentions public and accessible — including but not limited to the number of detainees, disaggregated by gender, age group, and nationality; refugee status; exact location where detainees are being held; duration of time detainees have been held; reasons for extension of detention etc.
    • We also demand an explanation from the Immigration Department regarding the grounds in which the deportation was carried out on 23 February despite the court order; why the remaining 114 Myanmar nationals were not deported, as well as their current status.

To reiterate, we the co-signed strongly condemn the deportation of the Myanmar nationals, and affirm that this crime against humanity — no less than that — cannot go unanswered. We may not be able to bring the 1,086 back, but we have to work to ensure that what happened never happens again.


Co-signed by:
Challenger Malaysia
MISI: Solidariti
Pemuda Sosialis
Demokrat Kebangsaan
North South Initiative
Parti Sosialis Malaysia
Refuge for the Refugees
Beyond Borders
Al-Hasan Volunteer Network