Travelers Unite to Stop Government-Sanctioned Human Trafficking in Malaysia

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Campaign by human rights advocates seeks to pressure Malaysia to stop the sale of refugees to human traffickers

In the case of refugees, there is no distinction made between someone fleeing from extreme persecution in Burma, for instance, and someone entering the country for the purpose of work.

With its rich culture and natural beauty, Malaysia is a popular destination for travelers. But for those who arrive in the country as migrants or refugees, there is a dark undercurrent. Human rights groups have documented gross human rights violations and trafficking of refugees that occur through a system of detention and deportation.

In partnership with Malaysia-based Tenaganita, Ethical Traveler has launched a campaign to highlight the atrocities inflicted on, in particular, Burmese refugees in Malaysia - atrocities that take place with Malaysian Government complicity.

The campaign effort will send hundreds of letters from concerned travelers to Malaysia's Minister of Home Affairs, Y.B. Dato' Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and to Malaysia's Minister of Tourism, Y.B. Dato' Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen. The letters will urge Mr. Hishammuddin and Dr. Ng to use their influence to change Malaysian policy to adhere to the 1951 Geneva Convention. The letters will be timed for delivery on June 20, 2010, World Refugee Day.

"Until there are dramatic policy changes made in Malaysia regarding the way the government views refugees and migrants, there won't be any real impact," according to Dr. Irene Fernandez, Director of Tenaganita. "In the case of refugees, there is no distinction made between someone fleeing from extreme persecution in Burma, for instance, and someone entering the country for the purpose of work."

Ethical Traveler will leverage its thousands of members worldwide to highlight these issues and to let the government of Malaysia know that we are aware of this reprehensible situation and that we are calling on them to sign the 1951 UN Geneva Convention.

"Through our web site, Ethical Traveler offers an easy and direct way for concerned people from around the world to write to the government of Malaysia, urging it to take action to stop gross mistreatment of those fleeing persecution in Burma," says Jeff Greenwald, Ethical Traveler's Executive Director.

For more on this campaign, or to sign and send a letter to the Malaysian Ministers of Home Affairs and Tourism please visit http://www.ethicaltraveler.org/malaysia-campaign-against-human-trafficking.

Note to Editors: Photos and follow-up interviews available upon request. For a PDF version of this release, please visit http://www.ethicaltraveler.org/download/et_pr_malaysia-campaign-against-human-trafficking.pdf.

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MICHAEL MCCOLL

Dr. Irene Fernandez
Tenaganita
+6 03 2691 3691
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