urgent call for transparent investigation into abduction of myanmar refugee activist and family
Human Rights Watch has urged the Malaysian government to prioritise a thorough and open investigation into the recent kidnapping of Thuzar Maung, a well-known campaigner for Myanmar refugees, and her family. The incident, which took place on July 4, 2023, raises serious questions regarding the safety and welfare of the kidnapped people. Thuzar Maung actively promotes democracy and human rights in Myanmar, so the Malaysian government must immediately find the family and ensure their safety.
The Abduction Incident
Thuzar Maung, her husband Saw Than Tin Win, their daughter Poeh Khing Maung and their boys Aung Myint Maung and Thukha Maung were forcibly taken from their home in Ampang Jaya, Kuala Lumpur, according to claims from witnesses and CCTV evidence. Under the guise of being police officials, the unnamed kidnappers entered the guarded neighbourhood. The family members’ phones were promptly turned off as the identical vehicles were seen leaving the compound later that evening.
Key Evidence and Suspicion of Planned Operation
The licence plate of the “police” car used by the kidnappers was seen on CCTV footage; however, Malaysian authorities eventually discovered it to be a fake. Additionally, one of the kidnappers was seen in the video using Thuzar Maung’s gate card to leave the facility while wearing black gloves. Notably, the same automobile had previously driven into the neighbourhood, raising questions about the abduction’s intentional character. Additionally, the family’s home showed no traces of a robbery, indicating that Thuzar Maung’s advocacy was the abduction’s primary motivation.
Thuzar Maung’s Activism and Safety Concerns
Thuzar Maung has long been an outspoken supporter of the rights of migrants and refugees in Malaysia and democracy in Myanmar. She has worked closely with Myanmar’s opposition National Unity Government and is chair of the Myanmar Muslim Refugee Community and the Myanmar Migrant Workers Committee. Her social media presence, which has more than 93,000 Facebook followers, has been used to draw attention to the wrongdoings carried out by the military regime that took control of Myanmar in a coup in February 2021. There is a real worry that Thuzar Maung and her family were intentionally targeted because of their activities, given her active position in criticizing the junta.
The Role of Malaysian Authorities
The Kuala Lumpur police have investigated the incident in reaction to it. The Malaysian government must, however, move quickly to put Thuzar Maung and her family’s safety first by using all of its resources to track them down. The Malaysian government must give Thuzar Maung and her family the necessary protection in compliance with international commitments, as they have been designated as refugees by the United Nations Refugee Agency.
International Community’s Responsibility
Along with other human rights organizations, Human Rights Watch requests that international governments pressure Malaysian authorities to quicken the inquiry and find the abducted family’s location. This episode serves as a sobering reminder that activists from Myanmar face danger even when they seek refuge in other nations while continuing to oppose the military dictatorship. The international community must aggressively work with Malaysia and assist in ensuring a full and open investigation that will lead to the prosecution of those responsible for this kidnapping.
Thuzar Maung, a committed campaigner for Myanmar refugees, and her family have been kidnapped in Malaysia, and this situation needs urgent attention from the Malaysian government and the world community. Priority should be given to ensuring the security and welfare of those kidnapped, and it is essential to conduct a comprehensive and open inquiry to learn the truth and bring the offenders to justice. This case emphasizes how crucial it is to preserve the rights and safety of human rights activists, especially those who run the risk of harm because of their activism under repressive regimes like Myanmar.