BIWEEKLY BRIEFS: 16-28 FEBRUARY 2021

Biweekly Briefs

(16-28 February 2021)

The following is a brief bringing you highlights of advocacy efforts by APRRN, partners, and what’s upcoming. We hope to provide you with regular updates on our network’s activities and developments in the landscapes of refugee protection in the Asia Pacific region. Should you like to contribute information, resources, or updates, kindly contact Michelle at michelle@aprrn.org.

For the Mailchimp version, please click here.

Advocacy Updates

National

Bangladesh

Malaysia

  • 18 February: Amnesty International Malaysia released a statement voicing their opposition towards the Malaysian government’s planned efforts with the Myanmar military to deport 1,200 people back to Myanmar on 23 February. They also voiced concerns regarding the authority’s reluctance to allow UNHCR access to immigration detention centres to identify refugees and asylum seekers. The organisation further called for additional protections for refugees and asylum seekers and for their immediate release.
  • 19 February: Fortify Rights published a joint statement calling on the Malaysian government to halt their plans to return 1,200 Myanmar nationals to Myanmar and to allow UNHCR have access to detention facilities to determine whether those slated for return are recognised refugees or have grounds to qualify as refugees.
  • 19 February: APRRN and FORUM-ASIA released a joint statement urging the Malaysian government to immediately halt the involuntary repatriation of Myanmar detainees, allow UNHCR access to all detainees scheduled for deportation, and to place the safety and security of vulnerable populations as a paramount consideration.
  • 22 February: Asylum Access Malaysia and Amnesty International Malaysia jointly filed for a judicial review in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to stop the government’s planned deportation of 1,200 individuals back to Myanmar in cooperation with the Myanmar military. The judicial review aimed to obtain a court order to prevent the deportation, and included the names and details of three UNHCR document holders and 17 minors who have at least one parent still in Malaysia.
  • 26 February: APRRN, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, FORUM-ASIA, and the International Detention Coalition released a joint statement to strongly urge the Government of Malaysia to grant UNHCR immediate and unfettered access to immigration detention facilities. The statement further urges the government to investigate the deportation on 23 February 2021 of the 1,086 individuals to Myanmar, in defiance of the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s interim stay order granted earlier that day.

Myanmar

  • 17 February: Aung Kyaw Moe, Founder and Executive Director of Center for Social Integrity, spoke at a webinar entitled ‘Myanmar Military Coup, ASEAN’s Role and the Challenge for Democracy’ that was hosted by The Habibie Center. The webinar reflects on the situation in Myanmar after the coup and what is ASEAN’s role in addressing this issue with the limitations of the ASEAN Way. The video of the webinar can be accessed here.
  • 18 February: Fortify Rights published a news release highlighting the Myanmar military junta’s arbitrary arrests of journalists, threats that led others into hiding, and proposed legislation that would severely curb media freedoms.
  • 22 February: Voice of America released a news piece entitled ‘UN, Rights Groups Pan Malaysia’s Plans to Deport Myanmar Nationals’. Lilianne Fan, the Co-Founder of Geutanyoe Foundation and the Deputy Chair of the Rohingya Working Group, was extensively mentioned in the article.
  • Fortify Rights has uploaded a collection of videos highlighting the events from Myanmar in regards to the protests against the coup in the country. Please go here for the videos.
  • A video of a webinar entitled ‘Myanmar’s Digital Coup: What can we do to resist?’ is now available on YouTube. The webinar, which was hosted by ASEAN Regional Coalition to #StopDigitalDictaorship (with APRRN member ALTSEAN-Burma included), discussed the digital dictatorship imposed by the Military Coup in Myanmar, the human rights activists at the forefront of the resistance, and ASEAN digital rights advocates.

Thailand

  • 23 February: APRRN and the Thai Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons organised a National Screening Mechanism (NSM) Multi-Stakeholders Meeting in Bangkok. Both organisations have developed a national strategy to promote human rights for refugees in Thailand through monitoring and evaluating the NSM’s implementation while using concrete evidence to support policy advocacy and strategic litigation. Thus, the meeting’s aims were to strengthen collaboration among stakeholders, share information, detail challenges and opportunities, and develop substantial recommendations.

Regional and Global

  • 23 February: Fortify Rights called on regional governments in South and Southeast Asia to support safe disembarkation and humanitarian assistance for scores of Rohingya refugees on a boat adrift at sea in their news release.
  • 25 February: DLA Piper and three other organisations hosted a webinar on providing legal aid remotely with safety precautions during the pandemic. The pandemic has prompted legal groups to reinvent the way they operate by developing promising new ways to work remotely.

On the radar

Regional

  • 3 March: APRRN will be co-hosting the ‘Global Refugee Forum: One Year On’ webinar to look at the progress made one year on from the 2019 Global Refugee Forum. It will take place at 13:00 Bangkok time. The webinar will have a particular focus on the #refugee self-participation pledge, acting as a platform to discuss this important commitment from governments, civil society, and the private sector. APRRN members Asia Pacific Network of Refugees and PILnet will be speaking at the webinar.
  • 20 and 27 March: The University of Essex is hosting the ’13th Human Rights in Asia Conference’. This two-day student-led event will be featuring the rights of asylum seekers and refugees in Asia, with a special focus on South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand. Please head over here for the event details.

From the Secretariat

  • APRRN Internship. We are seeking for motivated, passionate individuals who are keen on interning with APRRN. Interns at APRRN will have the opportunity to be involved and contribute to a variety of the network’s activities and projects on forced migration issues and advocacy for refugee rights across the Asia Pacific region. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested applicants are highly encouraged to apply. For more details, please see here.
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