PETALING JAYA: The immigration department might have mistaken the Chin community membership cards for the accredited United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards when its officers nabbed a group of refugees in downtown Kuala Lumpur on Saturday claiming that it was the work of a syndicate.
Refugee rights activist James Bawi said the Chin community from Myanmar are divided by dialects and culture and would form many separate groups to care for their welfare, and they did not function as a syndicate offering refugee cards for money as claimed.
He said these groups would then keep the names and details of the members in their database, and later help them in getting refugee status from UNHCR.
Bawi said members pay RM50 yearly and a membership card would be issued to them.
“The UNHCR recognises the community’s support for its members in this manner,” he told FMT.
Bawi was responding to a claim by the immigration department that a syndicate was behind these “refugee cards”, collecting RM500 from each ethnic Chin refugee as membership payments.
The department regarded these groups to be an “unregistered organisation” operating out of an apartment since 2009, having registered some 1,000 Chin people.
Immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud was reported as saying the card “recognised” the holder as a Chin ethnic refugee awaiting permission to go to a third country.