44 Nepalis held after Malaysia riot

- RAM CHANDRA GIRI, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

Aug 27, 2014-

At least 44 Nepali workers have been arrested in Malaysia after a massive riot sparked fires and destroyed parts of an electronics factory, highlighting accusations of poor conditions for many of the estimated four million foreign workers in the country.

The riot broke out in the southern industrial hub of Johor state on Tuesday at a factory run by JCY International, a Malaysian firm that makes parts for electronic giants including Samsung, Hitachi and Western Digital.

“After the company agreed to address our demands on Monday, we returned to work on Tuesday. But the situation deteriorated in the late evening,” said a Nepali worker of the company over the phone. Workers had accused the firm of negligence after a Nepali employee, Harka Bahadur Niraula, at a nearby JCY factory died last Thursday after complaining of chest pains, according to local news reports.

The workers initially went on strike early Tuesday to express their dissatification over working conditions but their action subsequently turned violent.

During the incident, the workers also stoned the office section of the factory and burned a car. Police said those arrested would be charged under the anti-rioting law.

The factory, which employs about 1,600 Nepali workers, suspended operations on Wednesday.

The Nepali Embassy in Malaysia said that they had been informed of the arrest and were trying to gather more details about the incident. The embassy has urged the workers not to resort to violence.  Embassy official Hemlal Sharma Bhattarai, who visited the incident site to take stock of the situation, said they were holding talks with the agitating workers and the company management to resolve the matter.

Malaysia currently hosts more than half a million Nepali migrant workers.

Published: 28-08-2014 09:06

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