Malaysia no different than Myanmar for rejecting refugees, Rohingya rep says
|Merhrom president Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani said that as Asean chairman, Malaysia must help save the Rohingya who have been persecuted for generations and left to die in makeshift shelters in their own country. — Reuters pic|
May 17, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia is no different from Myanmar for refusing to accept refugees seeking protection from persecution, a local Rohingya representative here has said.
In an emotional phone interview, Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia (Merhrom) president Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani said that as Asean chairman, Malaysia must help save the Rohingya who have been persecuted for generations and left to die in makeshift shelters in their own country.
“What difference is there between the Malaysian government and the Myanmar administration? Both are rejecting us... no difference,” Zafar told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.
“By deporting us back to the killing fields in our country, how are you being humane or different? Please help us. Pushing us back is the worst crime ever... we have no future there... at least help us solve the crisis in Myanmar... help us before we become dust and our mere existence is annihilated,” Zafar told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
He also questioned why Malaysians welcomed refugees from Bosnia and Palestine here, but not the Rohingya who are predominantly Muslims and suffer state-sanctioned discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
“Why is it difficult why difficult to help us Rohingya? Why is your government denying protection and pushing them back to the killing fields?
“In the holy Quran, Muslims are thought to help those of all ethnicity and faith... not just Muslims, so please consider us too as humans and give us protection,” Zafar said.
In the 1990s when Bosnia was at war, Malaysia offered refuge to Bosnian Muslims and also held ‘Save Bosnia’ rallies in several states.
Reuters reported that Malaysia also contributed 1,500 soldiers to the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force in Bosnia and even paid Bosnian Muslim men, women and children monthly allowances of between US$70 and US$105 (RM249 and RM374) while in Malaysia.
Housing, medical care and schooling for the children and young adults at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) were also provided for free, while refugee centres were opened up in Serdang, Bangi and Kuching.
“Malaysia as the Asean chair, should help us in this matter. We have the same rights as others. We want to be recognised as a legitimate ethnic (community),” Zafar added.
He also censured his government for being inhumane, and demanded that the Myanmar government be kicked out of the Asean pact should it refuse to attend a meeting to discuss the Rohingya humanitarian crisis scheduled to be held in Thailand.
On Friday, newswire AFP reported that Myanmar may snub a regional meeting hosted by Thailand later this month aimed at easing the current Bay of Bengal migrant crisis, quoting an official from the president’s office.
More than a thousand migrants have arrived on Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian soil since May 1, when the discovery of mass graves containing corpses believed to be of Bangladeshi and Myanmar migrants in southern Thailand prompted a crackdown on human trafficking.
People smugglers have since then abandoned their human cargo, leaving thousands of Bangladeshi and Rohingya refugees stranded in the Andaman Sea.
Myanmar had also accused Thailand of using the regional summit to divert attention from its own issues with people smuggling.
Zafar has been residing in Malaysia for 23 years and is a UN political asylum seeker card holder. He is married to a Malaysian and has three children, but laments that life has still not been kind to him.
“I applied for a permanent residency, but it was rejected by the Malaysian government because of my status. They asked me to produce my travel documents first. How will I produce something that I never had? Myanmar government never recognised my people as citizens so how can I have travel documents?” the odd-job worker and activist asked.
He said that Putrajaya has yet to respond on the IM13 card introduced in 2006 for Rohingya immigrants, which would allow them to work and earn a living.
“Thousands of us applied and were charged a RM90 levy too but the card is still not issued till today,” Zafar claimed.
“Where is the card? What happened to our money? RM90 is a lot of money for us destitutes,” he asked.