Subject: U.S. Representatives to Malaysian Ambassador - Do Not Deport Acehnese Asylum Seekers

September 3, 2003

Dato Ghazzali Sheikh-Abdul-Khalis Embassy of Malaysia 3516 International Court, N.W. Washington DC 20008 Dear Mr. Ambassador:

We are writing to express our concern that 12 asylum seekers from Aceh who have sought protection in Malaysia reportedly have been forcibly returned to Indonesia in an apparent violation of the principle of non-refoulement. We are equally concerned about the uncertain fate of several hundred asylum-seekers who remain in Malaysia. Return of these asylum seekers to Aceh, when military operations are underway and where there are reports of widespread human rights violations, would be unacceptable. We urge that your Government's authorities abide by international law and not forcibly return any additional Acehnese to Aceh.

Additionally, as you know, international refugee law prohibits countries from penalizing asylum seekers for illegal entry, and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) guidelines on detention stipulate that, as a general rule, asylum seekers should not be detained. At a minimum, we would request that authorities ensure that those detained are treated humanely and that they are held in conditions which meet international standards. We would also ask that you strongly consider allowing full access to representatives of the UNHCR to enable them to apply for asylum if they wish to do so, and also encourage the authorities to respect protection documentation issued to refugees and asylum seekers by the UNHCR. Thank you for your attention to these concerns.

Sincerely,

Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI)

Christopher Smith (R-NJ)

Lane Evans (D-IL)

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

Barney Frank (D-MA)

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)

Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC)

Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

James Langevin (D-RI).


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