PETALING JAYA: Set up an independent probe on the deadly riot at an immigration detention centre in Relau, says Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioner Jerald Joseph.
"It is shocking and a tragedy. An independent body made up of representatives other than those from the Home Ministry should be set up to investigate the incident," he said when contacted Wednesday (April 20).
Joseph added that the investigation should look at the current status of the detainees at the detention centre as they were currently caught in a limbo.
"Unlike the usual economic illegal migrants who are detained, processed and deported back to their country of origin, the Rohingya here are more stateless refugees and asylum seekers.
"There are over 1,000 in detention centres who have been detained for an indefinite period as they can't be sent back to Myanmar," he said.
He also said that UNHCR representatives have been denied entry into the Relau detention centre although they had sought access to help process the detainees.
"The investigations should also look at what sparked the protest and riot.
"The protest happened at such an early hour in the morning.
"Was it due to frustration at being detained without a definite conclusion?
"Was it due to anger at the authorities due to the lack of food or were they badly treated?" Joseph asked.
The riot, which began as a protest at around 5am on Wednesday (April 20) by about 650 Rohingya detainees, quickly turned into a riot.
The incident resulted in a massive prison break that saw about 500 detainees fleeing.
It was learned by The Star that around 229 of them have been recaptured while around 10 have died.
It is believed that they died after being hit by cars while they tried to cross a road in the chaos.
Police have deployed personnel to the centre to control the situation.
It is understood that most of the Rohingya there were previously detained in operations by various agencies in Langkawi.