11 May, 2020. 84 human rights-based national and international organizations expressed their concern over the response of the Government of Malaysia to threats of violence and ‘hate speech’ directed at ethnic Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia. They have expressed concern in a statement sent to the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Among others, the list of organizations jointly signed the statement includes COAST Trust, Cox’s Bazar CSO NGO Forum (CCNF), Amnesty International Malaysia, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Federation for Human Rights, Fortify Rights, Human Rights Watch.
The statement says, starting in the third week of April 2020, hateful messages targeting the Rohingya community in Malaysia have proliferated on social media platforms. Many posts included discriminatory and dehumanizing language and images as well as calls for Rohingya in Malaysia to be forcibly returned to Myanmar. Online users threatened prominent Rohingya activists, as well as their supporters, with physical attacks, murder, and sexual violence.
Organizations jointly signed this statement, urge the Prime Minister to act immediately to address the recent proliferation of ‘hate speech’ and violent threats against the Rohingya community and to ensure that incendiary rhetoric does not trigger discriminatory acts or physical attacks.
The statement places three specific recommendations:
- Create an enabling environment for the right to freedom of expression and equality in Malaysia, including bypassing comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in line with international human rights standards.
- Implement positive policy measures to promote equality, non-discrimination, and inter-cultural understanding in line with Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 and the Rabat Plan of Action.
- Ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.