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Message-ID: <199804100746.DAA10191@access2.digex.net>
Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 03:46:30 -0400
Reply-To: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@msu.edu>
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@msu.edu>
From: Alex G Bardsley <bardsley@ACCESS.DIGEX.NET>
Subject: Fwd: MY, IN: Immigrants storm several embassies in KL (SCMP)
To: Multiple recipients of list SEASIA-L <SEASIA-L@msu.edu>

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Indonesians storm embassies in Kuala Lumpur

South China Morning Post Internet Edition
Friday 10 April 1998; Updated at 1.10pm:

Kuala Lumpur - Indonesian immigrants seeking political asylum forced their way into four foreign embassy compounds in the Malaysian capital on Friday.

Malaysian police quickly removed the immigrants from the French and Swiss embassies and Brunei's diplomatic office in Kuala Lumpur, diplomats and police said.

But eight Indonesians who said they were from Aceh province in the north of Sumatra island, were still inside the US embassy compound four hours after scaling a wall to get inside, US officials said.

Several dozen Malaysian police stood outside two entrances to the US embassy.

US officials said they were talking to the UN refugee agency to decide what to do with the Acehnese, who entered the embassy at about 7.30am.

The dramatic move came amid a Malaysian campaign to repatriate tens of thousands of Indonesians, which has provoked expressions of concern from the United Nations and human rights groups.

An Acehnese leader said the immigrants who entered the diplomatic missions on Friday were among more than 100 illegal entrants who escaped from the Lenggeng detention camp last month. He said they were seeking political asylum.

Last week, 14 Acehnese drove a truck through the gate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) office in Kuala Lumpur to seek asylum.

The UNHCR has been interviewing the immigrants to determine whether they deserve political asylum. The Acehnese say they will be persecuted if sentback to Aceh, where a separatist revolt peaked in the early 1990s.

Malaysian authorities removed eight immigrants from the French embassy on Friday after the mission allowed riot police to enter the compound, diplomats and police said.

A guard at the Swiss embassy said 14 Indonesians were taken away by Malaysian police after the immigrants climbed over a wall at the building and scuffled with guards.

Police Chief Bakri Zinin said seven Indonesians were also taken away from Brunei's diplomatic building.

They are in the lock-up and we are treating them as illegal immigrants believed to be Indonesians, Mr Bakri said.

The US embassy said it would not allow police in to its compound until it had reached an understanding with the UNHCR.

Some Western diplomats said they were perplexed by the speed with which the French and Swiss allowed authorities to remove the Indonesians.

The Acehnese leader, who was in contact with the immigrants, had appealed to the French earlier on Friday not to allow the police to enter the compound.

They are being hunted and are seeking political asylum. We hope the French embassy and the international community will give support to their appeal, he said.