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Singapore’s Reply to Communication from Special Procedures Mandate Holders on Deportation of a Group of Myanmar Nationals from Singapore

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.

 

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 

UMEJ BHATIA

Ambassador and Permanent Representative

 

 

 

Annex

 

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.   

 

  • One of the individuals investigated has a direct relationship with a key AA leader.  At the behest of AA’s leadership, he actively mobilised support among the local Arakan community, and coordinated AA’s fund-raising efforts here.  He urged the community to contribute to a “National Fund”, as they needed a credible army to fight for them.  Socio-cultural events of the local community were used to propagate the AA’s cause and to rally support for the Rakhine ‘fatherland’.

 

  • The subjects investigated provided financial support to the AA.  One individual gave regular monthly contributions to the AA.   

 

  • All the individuals investigated were further involved in a recent celebration of the 10thanniversary of the founding of the AA and ULA in Singapore. The attendees wore clothing bearing the official AA logo. The event included participants depicting the AA’s armed offensive against the Myanmar Armed Forces’ actions in Rakhine State.  Actors were dressed in military uniforms with replica firearms.  There was also a live streaming video in which the leader of the AA urged the Rakhine people to unite, and fight for Rakhine independence through the AA’s armed conflict against the authorities. 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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