Six Burmese child beggars in Malaysia have been kept in an immigration detention camp for more than nine months as the Burmese embassy continues to deny them assistance.
The children, who range from 10 to 14 years old, were trafficked into Malaysia from Rangoon, Irrawaddy and Mandalay divisions last year. Kyaw Thaung, of the Burmese Nationals Association in Thailand, said financial assistance is needed for the children to travel back to Burma.
“We are having a headache over raising money for the kids – for travel expenses, food and clothing,” he said. He added that both the Burmese embassy in Malaysia and the UN’s refugee agency were playing “volleyball” with the children.
“That’s why they’ve been here for so long. Otherwise, the children would’ve been home long ago.” He said the group is now preparing to seek assistance from Save the Children UK.
The Burmese embassy in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur was unavailable for comment.
The families of two of the children, 10-year-old Kyaw Thu Linn and 12-year-old Aye Mya Htwe, were reportedly duped by traffickers into handing over their kids who were promised work in Rangoon, a source close to their family said. As money began to be sent by them, via traffickers, to the family, the mother handed over her eight-year-old son; unbeknown to her, he was also taken to Malaysia.
The boy is now believed to be missing in Malaysia and the family has not been able to contact him.
“[Kyaw Thu Linn and Aye Mya Htwe] were in Malaysia for about a year and four months. About six month ago, Kyaw Thu Linn’s brother was taken there by the same traffickers,” said the source. “Now some human traffickers are in detention.”
A police officer in Madaya, in Mandalay division, said that Burmese authorities were aware that the children were in Malaysia.
“[Burmese police] have a department called the ‘Transnational Organised Crime’ department and they will make necessary contacts with the foreign government,” he said. “As for us, we are a lower-ranking police station and we can’t bring people back. I think [the government] will make a ceremonial process to bring them back.”
He said that two couples in Madaya have confessed to the police that they sold the children. Kyaw Thaung told DVB that children were smuggled into Malaysia via overland and air routes.
“They said they were made to beg for money, with no breakfast provided for them in the mornings. They were instructed to earn around 70 to 80 Malaysian ringgit ($US22 to $US25) and were beaten when they failed.”
Two of the six children, Aung Ko Win and Nay Linn Oo, were residents in Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar township. Local police said they knew nothing about them. The other two children were identified as Tin Myo Htet from Irrawaddy division’s Kyaukgon town, and Min Yu San from Dala in Rangoon.