“They told me to take my clothes off. They told me to face a wooden rack. They spread my arms and then tied both my hands to the wooden rack. The person who whipped me was big and tall. More than 6 feet tall. He held this long cane”, and with this FA spread his arms as wide as possible to show how long it was. “The first whip, it was so painful that I fell unconscious. But the second whip, my bottom was numb by then, so I didn’t feel so much pain. I took 2 weeks to recover from the whipping.”

Tha Peng Ling (not his real name) still has the scars from the whips and the months he spent in prison and detention centre. He developed gastritis in detention, and now he tires very easily when walking. Tha Peng thinks there is something wrong with his lungs. After his whipping, he also easily forgets things.

And now, he is always afraid.

The 2 lashings of the cane was part of Tha Peng’s sentence for being without proper documents in Malaysia. In total, he spent 4 months in prison and 1.5 months in a detention centre before being deported to the Thai border where he made his way back to Malaysia after borrowing money from friends to pay an agent.

“My father was a teacher in Myanmar. In 2003, Aung San Suu Kyi visited our village. My father was very active in organising her visit. Later one of our relatives who works with the Government warned my father that he will be arrested. That night, we locked up our house and walked away into the night. We walked from village to village for 7 days until we reached Mizoram in India.”

“My father and mother, and my wife and two children are still in India, but I want to stay here. I want to be registered as a refugee with the UNHCR.”