FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM
Thuzar Maung, 46, is a pro-democracy activist from Myanmar and a refugee rights leader in Malaysia. She serves as chair of the Myanmar Muslim Refugee Community and Myanmar Migrant Workers Committee. Since 2021, she has worked closely with Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG).
She has over 93,000 followers on Facebook, where she posts criticism of abuses by Myanmar’s military, which took power in a coup on February 1, 2021. Her friends and colleagues expressed concern that she was targeted for her activism and work with the NUG.
2015: Thuzar Maung, her husband and three children, seek asylum in Malaysia fleeing violence against Muslims in Myanmar. They become registered refugees with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia providing them status and protection under international law.
TIMELINE OF A DISAPPEARANCE
2015-2021: Thuzar Maung serves as chair of the Myanmar Muslim Refugee Community and Myanmar Migrant Workers Committee in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (home to over 150,000 refugees from Myanmar: 102,000 Rohingya and over 47,000 Kachin, Chin and Muslim refugees, according to UNHCR statistics)
2021-2023: Thuzar Maung continues in her role as a Myanmar refugee community leader in Malaysia. She amasses over 93,000 followers on Facebook, where she posts criticism of the abuses perpetrated by Myanmar’s military, which overthrew the National League for Democracy (NLD) government and detained its leaders State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint in February 2021.
Thuzar Maung expresses her support publicly for the National Unity Government (NUG), the democratic opposition to military rule in Myanmar. She begins to use her office in Ampang Jaya district in Kuala Lumpur to organize on behalf of the NUG among the Myanmar refugee community in Malaysia.
2023: On June 19, the guard booth at the entrance to the gated residence where Thuzar Maung’s family lives in Ampang Jaya district logged an unfamiliar vehicle entering the compound.
On July 4, Thuzar Maung, her husband, and three children were abducted from their family home inside this gated community. CCTV footage taken from the guard booth captured the license plate of a “police” car – the same one that entered on June 19 – which Malaysian police have since identified as fake. The footage also captured a black-gloved hand of the driver of one of Thuzar Maung’s two cars holding out the gate card to exit the compound.
On July 5, Thuzar Maung’s colleagues entered the residence in the gated community in Ampang Jaya district, where the family lived, and reported there were no signs of a forced entry or robbery.
On July 17, Human Rights Watch called on the Malaysian government to immediately prioritize a thorough and transparent investigation into the abduction of “Myanmar refugee activist Thuzar Maung and her family.” It published a report called “Malaysia: Myanmar Refugee Activist Abducted“
On July 18, Malaysian police launched an investigation into the abduction and disappearance of Thuzar Maung and her family from their home in Kuala Lumpur. Selangor police chief Datuk Hussein Omar Khan told Reuters that the police have opened a missing persons inquiry following a report on the family’s disappearance. However, he did not elaborate further on the matter but said that the police would probe into any element of crime, including kidnapping.
On August 4, Malaysian police posted photos of Thuzar Maung and her family on the Ampang District police Facebook page. Police stated again that they were investigating it as a missing persons case but had no updates on the family’s abduction or disappearance. Human Rights Watch criticized the police for not circulating the photographs to the public sooner.
August 5 to the present day: No news or updates from Malaysian authorities about the investigation. Rumours circulating among the Myanmar refugee community in Kuala Lumpur states that Thuzar Maung was sent back to Myanmar with assistance from the Myanmar embassy in Malaysia. This would be a violation of the international law of non-refoulement, as she and her family are all UNHCR-registered refugees under the protection of the Malaysian government.
HRW report on July 17 (10 days after abduction and disappearance).
NST report on July 18 (11 days after abduction and disappearance)
RFA report on August 4 (two months after abduction and disappearance).