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Rohingya refugee finds her voice in journalism

PETALING JAYA: Meet Arifa Sultana, a 23-year-old journalist working at a news studio in Malaysia run entirely by Rohingya refugees.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, she said her work allowed her to speak up for her community to an international audience.

“We are denied all human rights. We have no legal documentation. I feel that if I don’t raise (this issue), people will not come to help us solve it,” she was quoted as saying.

Arifa herself came to Malaysia in 2014. According to Al Jazeera, her family fled from Rakhine state to Bangladesh in 1994, before Arifa turned one year old.

Although Arifa was keen on continuing her studies, she was unable to do so as she lacked the necessary documentation.

When she was 19, Al Jazeera reported, Arifa began volunteering at Rohingya Vision TV, which broadcasts in Rohinhya, English and Arabic.

According to its website, Rohingya Vision TV, also known as RVision, is the world’s first Rohingya satellite television channel which acts as a watchdog for issues pertaining to the community. It also has studios in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

It was established on April 21, 2012 and began satellite broadcasting on Oct 2, 2016.

Among others, RVision seeks to create awareness of the Rohingya plight on an international scale and develop the Rohingya media sector in collaboration with global media.

Arifa told Al Jazeera she had been offered many opportunities to travel outside Malaysia for professional journalism training.

However, she has not accepted any of them as she fears she will not be allowed to return to the country if she leaves.

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority who have been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982.

For decades, they have been escaping persecution in their mostly Buddhist homeland, but the latest exodus was the worst in years.

More than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled Myanmar since a military crackdown was launched in Rakhine in August, which the United Nations and watchdogs have said amounts to ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar however has denied such accusations, insisting the military’s clearance operation was necessitated by national security concerns after Rohingya militants attacked 30 security posts in northern Rakhine on Aug 25.

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