Rights group Amnesty International Malaysia today hit out at the immigration department over a poster warning Rohingya refugees against coming to Malaysia, contrasting its message with the authorities’ recent show of support for the Palestinians.
In a statement, it said “strategic communications” and policies such as those shown in the poster would only “foster a climate of hatred, violence and xenophobia”.
“They harm lives, they punish people for trying to survive, they justify discrimination,” it added.
The poster, uploaded to the immigration department’s Twitter page, showed men in uniform carrying guns with military planes overhead against a backdrop of vessels including a boat packed with what appear to be migrants.
Update: The poster has since been taken down.
The caption of the poster reads: “Migran etnik Rohingya, kedatangan anda tidak diundangi” (Rohingya migrants, your arrival is not lawful).
Amnesty said it was “despicable” to tell a community which had undergone ethnic cleansing and endured “unimaginable brutality for generations” that “they are not only unwanted in our country, but that we will use brute force against them”.
“It is also particularly grotesque coming from leaders who will crow to the international community about their concern for Palestinians one week, then in the next breath threaten violence against others who are traumatised and displaced.
“How does the Malaysian government justify that hypocrisy?”
Adding that refugees and migrants deserve to have their humanity upheld, it said “people will come because they want to survive”.
“We can choose to spend so much money and resources on acts of violence and hatred, or we can create a response of care and protection.
“The Malaysian government must explain why, especially in the time of a global pandemic, they have chosen to attack people in need,” it said.