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Malaysia: A Rohingya safe haven?

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Inside a television studio a small team of four prepare the daily news bulletin featuring horrendous stories of rape, murder, forced exile, and the lack of an international response to these crimes.

But this is no ordinary television news station. It’s fully staffed by Rohingya refugees broadcasting online, sharing news and information from Myanmar, Bangladesh and beyond. It’s essentially refugee TV, brought to you from studios in Malaysia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

Sitting at the news anchor desk is Arifa Sultana, a 23-year-old Rohingya journalist. Her family fled from Myanmar’s restive Rakhine state to Bangladesh a mere 11 months after her birth in 1994.

Myanmar’s government has deprived the Rohingya of citizenship since 1982. But as Azeem Ibrahim points out in his book The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide, the campaign to exclude them as an official minority group began with Burma’s founding 1947 constitution.

Generations of Rohingya have been rendered stateless, and it seems a concerted effort to force them out of their homes and into squalid refugee camps has been undertaken by the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces.

The Tatmadaw argues it is doing “security clearance” in northern Rakhine state, and has issued its own report denying any wrongdoing since these operations began following attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on August 25.

“Everybody knows that we are Rohingya but when it comes to documentation, there’s no legal proof,” Sultana told Al Jazeera. “This is the biggest challenge I’m facing now.”

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