Rohingya Vision

After harrowing journeys, Rohingya hope for peaceful Ramadan in Indonesia

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After harrowing journeys, Rohingya hope for peaceful Ramadan in Indonesia
June 18
16:27 2015

KUALA CANGKOI, Indonesia (AFP) – Muhammad Yunus came ashore in Indonesia by accident after a harrowing boat journey — but he and hundreds of other persecuted Rohingya  are delighted to be spending Ramadan in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

The boat people in Aceh province are among thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants who arrived in countries across Southeast Asia in May after a Thai crackdown threw the people-smuggling trade into chaos and sparked a regional crisis.

Yunus had hoped to reach relatively affluent Malaysia, like many of the region s migrants, but after a months-long voyage was dumped in shallow waters off Aceh.

He is nevertheless relieved to have washed up in Indonesia — particularly in time for Ramadan, which starts on Thursday — and be far from his native Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country where the Rohingya have long faced discrimination and are denied citizenship.

“Praise be to God, we were saved and brought to a Muslim country,” said the 35-year-old religious education teacher, who was rescued off the coast of Aceh on May 10 with around 580 other migrants.

“The people here are very kind and have helped us, they see Rohingya refugees as their brothers.”

Others, such as 16-year-old Muhammad Shorif, who fled a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh where he had lived with his family, echoed his sentiments.

“I miss mother s cooking in the refugee camp,” he said, but added he was “very happy” to be in Aceh for Ramadan, when Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset.

Ramadan will be a busy time for Yunus, who left Myanmar in 2012 when his Islamic school was destroyed during fierce state sponsored violence between local Buddhists and Rohingya, as he acts as prayer leader for the Rohingya in the camps.

He said that at the time he fled, it was impossible for Muslims to worship in peace, with mosques being razed to the ground and security forces stopping them from performing prayers.

Yunus spent several years at a camp in Bangladesh but got on a boat earlier this year in an attempt to escape the pitiful conditions there.

Note:Changes have been made,AFP is not responsible for these.




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