Arrested Tamil refugees may face torture if they are deported to Sri Lanka.

sri-lanka-suaram-polis-300x199PETALING JAYA: A local human rights group has alleged that Malaysian police are hunting down refugees from Sri Lanka at the bidding of the Colombo government.

“Our police are acting under the orders of powerful Malaysian politicians who are trying to please the Sri Lanka government,” R Thevarajan, a spokesman for Suaram, told FMT today.

He was commenting on last Thursday’s arrest of three Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka. The three, identified as Kirupanathan, Kirubaharan Mahadevan and Gushanthan Santhiralingargah, are detained at Bukit Aman.

“We fear that if these three refugees and political asylum seekers are deported back to Sri Lanka, they may face torture and persecution,” Thevarajan said in a media statement he released early today.

“We were informed by the investigation officer from Bukit Aman police headquarters that the investigation on the three Sri Lankans is being done under the Immigration Act.

“Suaram suspects high level political intervention in this case. The Sri Lankan authorities have been targeting the Tamils who seek refuge in Malaysia to be deported back to Sri Lanka.”

The three are among many who have fled Sri Lanka to escape the alleged persecution of Tamils, who are a minority in the country.

Thevarajan told FMT the three detainees were all arrested in Selangor and that police confiscated their personal items, including computers and documents.

“Is the confiscation of the items necessary if they are being detained merely for violating the Immigration Act?” he asked.

He said the police action violated the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

According to that convention, a refugee is a person who has fled the country of his or her origin for fear of persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.

The convention also states that the deportation of refugees and political asylum seekers puts their life and well being in danger.

Malaysia has not signed or ratified the convention.

Nevertheless, Suaram is urging the government not to deport the three arrested persons and to let the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have access to them.

“We lodged a report to the UNHCR yesterday and we will be sending letters to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,” Thevarajan said.