24 Oct 2019
24 October 2019
Ms Leigh Toomey
Vice-Chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Mr Bernard Duhaime
Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
Ms Agnes Callamard
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
Mr Felipe González Morales
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants
Mr Fernand de Varennes
Special Rapporteur on minority issues
Ms Fionnuala Ní Aoláin
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
Mr Nils Melzer
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Dear Ms Toomey, Mr Duhaime, Ms Callamard, Mr González Morales, Mr de Varennes, Ms Ní Aoláin and Mr Melzer,
I refer to the letter dated 10 October 2019 [Ref: UA SGP 4/2019] concerning the Government of Singapore’s deportation in July 2019 of a group of Myanmar nationals who were residing in Singapore.
The background to the events you referred to in your letter has been comprehensively explained in the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs Statement of 10 July 2019 on “Security Action Taken Against Myanmar Nationals Working in Singapore, for Organising Support for Armed Violence” (enclosed at Annex).
Investigations by Singapore security agencies revealed that a group of Myanmar nationals in Singapore had organised and mobilised some members of the local Myanmar community to support the Arakan Army (AA) and its political wing, the United League of Arakan (ULA). The AA is an armed group that has conducted violent attacks in Myanmar.
The Singapore Government takes a very serious view of persons who support, promote, undertake or make preparations to undertake armed violence, regardless of how they rationalise such violence, or where the violence takes place. Foreigners visiting, working or residing in Singapore have to abide by Singapore’s laws. They should not import domestic political issues from their countries into Singapore. Any person, local or foreign, who engages in such activity, which is inimical to Singapore’s national security, will be dealt with firmly.
The Singapore authorities informed the Myanmar nationals that they were not allowed to remain in Singapore because they had used Singapore as a platform to organise and garner support for armed violence. After their work passes were cancelled by their employers, they had no legal basis to remain in Singapore. The Myanmar nationals were thus told to leave Singapore and were free to decide on their destination country upon leaving Singapore. They chose to return to Myanmar, and took the flights to Yangon on their own, unescorted. As such, the issue of non-refoulement did not arise.
The Singapore Government’s actions were not taken upon the request of any other party, but were the decision of the Singapore Government after the completion of investigations.
All foreign nationals with a valid visa/work pass are allowed to reside/work in Singapore so long as they abide with our domestic legislation. Any extradition requests received by the Singapore Government will be processed according to our domestic laws and international legal obligations.
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
10 Jul 2019
MHA Statement on Security Action Taken Against Myanmar Nationals Working in Singapore, for Organising Support for Armed Violence
1. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is taking action against several Myanmar nationals for using Singapore as a platform to organise and garner support for armed violence against the Myanmar government. This is inimical to Singapore’s security.
2. Investigations reveal that a group of Myanmar nationals in Singapore have organised and mobilized some members of the local Myanmar community to support the Arakan Army (AA) and its political wing, the United League of Arakan (ULA).
3. The AA is an armed group that has conducted violent attacks in Myanmar. This includes two attacks on police posts in January and March 2019, where the AA admitted to seizing large caches of weapons and ammunition from the police stations. According to reports, the AA killed over 20 police officers in the two attacks. Family members of police officers, including women and children, were reportedly abducted by the AA in these attacks.
4. The AA has been designated a terrorist group by the Myanmar government.
5. The Myanmar nationals investigated were found to be supporters of the AA.
6. The immigration facilities of those found to be involved in activities of security concern will be cancelled, and they will be deported from Singapore.
7. MHA takes a very serious view of anyone who supports, promotes, undertakes or makes preparations to undertake armed violence, regardless how they rationalise such violence ideologically, or where the violence takes place. They should not import their domestic political issues from their countries into Singapore.
8. Any person, local or foreign, who engages in such activity, which is inimical to Singapore’s national security, will be dealt with firmly. Foreigners visiting, working or living in Singapore have to abide by our laws.
9. MHA recognises that the very large majority of the Myanmar nationals in Singapore are law abiding and have made contributions to our country. We must be careful not to let the actions of a few individuals taint the positive contributions of the rest of the community, who live harmoniously amongst us.