Rohingya Vision

No Eid joy for Rohingya in Malaysia

Rohingya refugees at the surau Al-Islamiah.

No Eid joy for Rohingya in Malaysia
July 20
09:57 2015

PETALING JAYA: Hari Raya Aidilfitri is supposed to be a joyous occasion for Muslims, but the Rohingya in Malaysia find it very difficult to even smile.

Instead, many of them shed tears and speak softly as they remember their families back in Myanmar.

“How can we be happy? We always think of our past. We can never be happy with life in exile,” said Mohammad Sadek, the programme coordinator for the Rohingya Arakanese refugee committee (RARC).

Sadek, 43, has been in Malaysia for almost eight years. He has four children, aged one to six, all of whom were born here. His second child, Mubarak Hussain, is a “Merdeka” child.

“This morning, everyone was weeping thinking of their families back in Burma,” he added in English when met at the surau Al-Islamiah in Kampung Tasik Permai in Ampang just before Friday prayers.

His parents are in a refugee camp in Bangladesh while his siblings are still in Myanmar.

Similarly, 65-year-old Nurul Amin, who left Myanmar about 20 years ago because of land issues, says he can’t find joy for even a minute.

His family, including his three grown children, aged 25-30, are back home.

“I can’t find any peace here. I miss my family. If I have a chance I want to go back,” Nurul told The Star Online through Sadek.

The plight of the Rohingya made headlines in May after several thousands of them were found stranded on smugglers’ boats in the Andaman Sea and Straits of Malacca, abandoned amid crackdowns against human traffickers.

This led to the discovery of human trafficking camps along the border of Thailand and Malaysia.

The Rohingya, who are Muslim, have often complained of systematic mistreatment by Myanmar’s Buddhist-majority government.

They are made stateless and are often subjected to arbitrary violence and forced labour.

But even those who are in Malaysia don’t have it easy. If they are lucky, they are able to work informal jobs for a menial salary.

Nurul said that he could not get treatment for a whole host of health problems he was suffering from, even though he had valid refugee status. It doesn’t help that he can’t work, he said.

“I have to depend on the community to help me out, to pay for my rent and food,” said Nurul.

As of April, there were almost 46,000 Rohingya registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the country.

There are many more who are still seeking refugee status, such as 22-year-old Anwar Shah, who has only been in the country for about seven months.

In Myanmar, he said that congregation at mosques is not allowed and that he was arrested several times for trying to pray with his friends.

Fed up with the situation, he came to Malaysia with his uncle paying the cost for him.

Unlike at home, he can pray anytime he wants at the surau Al-Islamiah, where the main congregation is made up of Rohingya.

He, however, can’t work or go anywhere he pleases as he fears arrest by the authorities.

“I am very confused … My family is facing ethnic cleansing in Arakan. But at the same time, there are many problems here. I want to go back to Myanmar one day … not now … but one day I hope,” he said.

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

Source: Star Online.



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