New ‘Selayang Wholesale Market’ Conundrum: the ‘Rohingya’ Refugees Scapegoated Again
By M.S. Anwar
Once again, a new form of conundrum has been arising in Malaysia’s Selayang City since two weeks ago (i.e. since January 10-11, 2016). The interest to penetrate and take over ‘the Selayang Wholesale Market’ by a local notorious gang is said to have sparked the latest series of problems. TheStarOnline quoted the Malaysian Police saying “they wanted to come in and take control of the place. They could then start charging the stalls protection money and eventually bring the drug trade to the market.”
“Initially, the gang’s henchmen — that clashed with the Security Guards and afterwards with the Myanmar’s immigrant workers (mostly Muslims) at the Market — reportedly are also Myanmar’s Tamil Immigrants working for the local Tamil gang leaders eyeing the total control over the market as it used to be a few years ago. However, the clashes didn’t end there. They subsequently led other members of the notorious gang to randomly fire at the crowd in the market on January 13 night injuring one Myanmar worker and another two-year-old baby,” reported Mohammed Ismail, a Rohingya refugee living in Selayang city.
By this, it can be understood that they obviously are not communal/racial clashes but the clashes between two gangs or a gang and the migrant workers who acted on their own ‘INDIVIDUAL’ decisions for their interests. However, just because some local Tamil gangs and some migrant workers are involved in the clashes, some interested groups are framing it as violence between the two communities.
Mr. Nur Mohd, a Rohingya activist in KL, said “the saddest part of the spate of clashes is that the name ‘ROHINGYA’ has once again come under the strict surveillance and criticism. The ‘Rohingya’ fleeing the government-sponsored violence in Myanmar (Burma) and seeking refuge in Malaysia has been targeted for the crimes that they have never committed. They have been scapegoated once again. They have been being beaten up at many places and a few have even been killed going by the latest reports. Thousands are now rendered without any means to livelihood.”
A few NGOs and Civil Society Groups along with some local Tamils have gone to the extent that they have demonstrated and demanded the authorities and the UN Refugee Agency to curb the supports and protections provided to the Rohingya refugees. A few goons have even threatened that they will get rid of Rohingya Muslim Refugees from Malaysia.
So, a few questions here demand damning answers.
- Who has/have been feeding the local NGOs and Civil Society Groups with misinformation that Rohingya (as individuals or as a whole) has been involved in the skirmishes and why?
- Who have been inciting these individual gang clashes towards communal violence and what are their motives?
Framing the Clashes as Sectarian Targeting Rohingya
For some obvious reasons, one should not disregard the fact that Myanmar’s Intelligence along with their local alliances could be well behind bringing Rohingya’s name at the front of the problem and inciting these clashes towards racial violence between the local Tamils and the Rohingya refugees although they haven’t involved in the latest clashes. There could be two reasons for these.
- To cripple the strength of Rohingya refugee community in Malaysia
- To disharmonize Malaysia and cause racial problems in the country
“If the latest reports from some reliable sources are anything to go by, Myanmar’s Intelligence has been playing similar well-designed games to cripple Rohingya diaspora not only in Malaysia but also in the countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and even in Saudi Arabia. It’s simple!
The Rohingya diaspora in those countries make a stronghold in overseas to encourage, support and empower their brethren back in their homeland with information, advocacy, ideas, finance and technology etc helping them to survive under extreme persecution by the Burmese government. So, if the Myanmar (Burmese) government can cripple the Rohingya stronghold in overseas, they could easily crush the Rohingyas already caged in an open prison called Arakan State in the country,” continued Mr. Nur Mohd.
Moreover, the Myanmar Government is extremely displeased with Malaysia for hosting thousands of Rohingya refugees and allowing them to stay and find means to survival in the country. Therefore, by pushing the on-going gang-clashes in the Selayang city towards the racial violence against Rohingya, the Burmese Intelligence could not only turn the Rohingya Muslim refugees as the hated community in the country but also could cause racial rifts between the Tamil Hindus and Malay Muslims. So, for Burmese Intelligence, it’s ‘One Shot, Two Birds!’
Maligning Entire Rohingya Refugee Community
In March 2001, a series of bloody clashes between Malays and Malaysian Tamils broke out in Kampung Medan in Petaling Jaya. None has blamed the entire Tamil community or the entire Malay community for the violence. Some members of both communities clashed and the authorities were quick to respond. The Rule of Law prevailed ultimately.
In July 2015, some Chinese and some Malays clashed at Lowyat Plaza, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, over an alleged theft best known to them. None has called it a Chinese-Malay clash but a clash among some people. The authorities were quick to respond.
But in this case, it is extremely sad to see that the entire Rohingya refugees have been maligned. As the misinformation about the clashes is being spread on social media and other platforms portraying the violence to be between the Tamil Community and the Rohingya Refugee Community, the Burmese Intelligence Services have jumped into the bandwagon and been taking full advantage of it.
The NGOs apparently backed by some local Malaysian authorities with ulterior motives — like those ‘Penang Island MPs’ that rejected the Rohingya Human Trafficking Victims to give refugee on the island when they stranded on the shore last year and instead asked the Federal Government and the Kedah State authorities to give them (the victims) places among Malay majority areas – along with Burmese (Myanmar) Intelligent Services are in full swing to cripple the Rohingya Refugee by stripping them off from all supports and protections, disharmonize the nations and take political advantages out of the racial clashes.
Omar, a Rohingya refugee in Kuala Lumpur, said “we are living in fear now. All these so-called NGOs and demonstrators, instead of squarely blaming and maligning the entire Rohingya community, should demand the concerned authorities to verify if they are ‘Rohingya’ or not and take actions against anyone found guilty no matter who they are.”
The Selayang Areas are temporarily silent due to the actions taken by the local authorities and the ongoing operations against migrant workers. And there is a growing fear among the Rohingya refugees and other Myanmar Muslim refugees.
Therefore, Arakan Rohingya Samaj (ARS), a Rohingya Refugee Community in Malaysia, on behalf of the Rohingya refugees would like to clarify to the local Malaysians and their well-wishers that the Rohingya Refugees are ever grateful to Malaysia for hosting them in the country and won’t ever harm the national interest and national security in Malaysia. Their fight is with their oppressors, Burmese Regime. They abide by the rules and laws of Malaysia.
They further plead the Malaysian authorities to take necessary actions and prevent the on-going clashes from worsening and misinformation being spread. If anyone or any individual found guilty in the clashes should be punished accordingly. The Rohingya refugees request to the local NGOs, Civil Society Groups and others to stop maligning the entire the Rohingya Refugee community for the acts that they have never committed or might have been committed by some individuals.
Let the Rule of Law prevail. Let the Laws in Malaysia talk.
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