Some 84 national and international rights groups have called on the Malaysian government to address violent threats and hate speech against Rohingya refugees in the country.
They have expressed concerns over a surge in hateful messages posted online attacking the Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, in an open letter to Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday.
"We urge you to act immediately to address the recent proliferation of 'hate speech' and violent threats against the Rohingya community and to ensure the incendiary rhetoric does not trigger discriminatory acts or physical attacks," says the letter.
The letter mentions hateful messages targeting the Rohingya community in Malaysia have proliferated on social media platforms, starting from the third week of April 2020.
Many posts included discriminatory and dehumanising language and images as well as calls for Rohingya in Malaysia to be forcibly returned to Myanmar.
Online users threatened prominent Rohingya activists as well as their supporters with physical attacks, murder, and sexual violence, the letter adds.
The rights groups in their letter have put forward three specific recommendations: Create an enabling environment for the right to freedom of expression and equality in Malaysia; implement positive policy measures to promote equality, non-discrimination, and inter-cultural understanding in line with Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 and the Rabat Plan of Action; ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.
Signatories to the Monday's open letter include COAST Trust, Cox's Bazar CSO NGO Forum (CCNF), Amnesty International Malaysia, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Federation for Human Rights, Fortify Rights, and Human Rights Watch.