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Chase out Myanmar envoy, say Rohingya activists

A Community Action for Rohingya member taking part in a demonstration outside the Myanmar Embassy at Jalan Ampang Hilir, Kuala Lumpur, today to demand an end of discrimination against the minority group. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Seth Akmal, May 21, 2015.

By The Malaysian Insider
May 21, 2015

A group of Rohingya activists today demanded that Myanmar's ambassador to Malaysia as well as the embassy's staff leave the country immediately over the boat people crisis where ethnic Rohingyas are among migrants stranded at sea after fleeing persecution in Myanmar.

The group, called Community Action for Rohingya, demonstrated outside the Myanmar Embassy at Jalan Ampang Hilir, Kuala Lumpur. 

One of the group's members, Zakaria Rahim, said they wanted the Myanmar government to stop discriminating against Rohingyas, who have been denied citizenship and were thus stateless.

They also want Myanmar nationals working in Malaysia to leave, and said the Malaysian government should revoke their working permits as a form of protest.

"We will demand to the Malaysian government to revoke the working permits of Myanmar workers," Zakaria said.

"Until Myanmar takes serious action, we don't want you around since you are not welcoming your own people."

The group's efforts to meet Myanmar ambassador to Kuala Lumpur U Tha Aung Nyun, however, failed as they were not allowed into the compound. They also did not manage to hand over a memorandum containing their demands.

The group then began chanting slogans against Burma, the old name for Myanmar, and about saving the Rohingyas. In all, the group numbered about 100 people, some of whom were from the opposition Islamist party, PAS.

Some PKR figures, such as Fariz Musa, the party's organising secretary and Rozan Azen, political secretary to vice-president Chua Tian Chang, were also present today.

There was a heated discussion with several policemen earlier when police only allowed a few representatives to approach the embassy.

PAS representatives are also expected to hand over a protest memorandum later today.

"We will campaign aggressively for all Malaysians to boycott any product from Myanmar and businesses using Myanmar citizens as their workers," Zakaria said as he read out the demands.

Among those who made up the group were Pertubuhan Solidariti Madani Malaysia, R4PEACE, Seniman Paksi Rakyat, Suara Anak Muda Batu andd Ikatan Kompas Prihatin.

The group planned to go to Parliament later today to hand over their demands to the MPs.

At 11.30am, PAS and the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisation (Mapim) also failed to hand over their memorandum, as they were not allowed into the embassy’s compound.

"We demand three things, for them to stop the genocide or ethnic cleansing that has been going on for decades, and for Rohingya citizenship to be returned and the refugees be allowed to return to their country," Mapim president Mohd Azmi Abd Hamid told reporters.

PAS was represented by its central committee member Dr Riduan M. Nor.

More than 1.3 million Rohingyas – viewed by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities – live in Myanmar's western Rakhine state. 

Rohingyas are among the estimated 7,000 migrants stranded at sea after their boats were pushed back and forth between Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia last week as none would allow them to berth on shore over fears that this would open the floodgates to even more migrants waiting to escape poverty and persecution.

Yesterday, Indonesia and Malaysia announced that it would rescue only those on boats as a temporary measure, on condition that the international community repatriated them within a year.

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Rohingya Exodus