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A simple Raya for Rohingya refugees

Rohingyas celebrating Hari Raya at the office of Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia (Merhrom). — TRP pic by Ahmed Syahril

By Ahmed Syahril Zulkeply
July 21, 2015

Rohingya refugees here are thankful for the opportunity to celebrate Raya in peace, although having to do so thousands of miles away from their hometown.

For hundreds of the refugees that are temporarily seeking shelter in Cheras Baru here, Raya has been celebrated every year in the office of Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia (Merhrom).

The organisation’s president Zafar Ahmead Mohd Abdul Ghani said that every year, Raya would be celebrated in great merriment by the refugees especially with the help of the locals.

“Usually we will perform Raya prayer in Surau Al-Islah located near the office, along with the locals around the area.

“Then we will eat together with many of them bringing along their special dishes,” he said to The Rakyat Post.

Although admitting grief due to the inability to celebrate the special day with his loved ones that are still in Myanmar, Zafar said the sadness was made a little bearable when surrounded by those in the same boat as he was.

“We are just happy to be able to celebrate Raya in peace here and to have everything go so well.

“Every year I, my wife and our three children will celebrate with the other Rohingyan refugees.”

Mohd Hussein Jalal Ahmad, 46, expressed sadness for having to be alone the past eight years, without any of his family to accompany him in the celebration.

“I miss my parents, my sisters, my siblings and my relatives and what is more saddening for me is that I can’t even contact them.

“I don’t know what is going with them, if they are still alive or if they are dead. Their mobile number is uncontactable.”

Abdul Manaf Anah Hat, 50, considered himself luckier than the other refugees as unlike most of them, he has almost all his family members out of the uncertainties that surrounded the lives of those still living in Myanmar.

“My family are mostly safe and sound, with some living in Malaysia and others in Thailand, India and Indonesia.

“Every year we will call each other but sadly, I still haven’t had the opportunity to contact my parents who are in Myanmar.

“I constantly worry for their well being,” he said, recounting the tragic Raya incident in Myanmar, 20 years ago.

“It was the saddest Raya and I still remember it to this day. A lot of the Muslims were arrested and imprisoned for no reason and when I ran to Thailand before heading to Malaysia, I got news that a friend of mine was killed on his way to visit his relatives.”

For 21-year-old Mohd Hassan Syed Hussein, Raya was normally celebrated with those who walked in the same shoes as he did.

“After the celebration in the Merhrom office, I would go to the city center and meet others just like me. We would then spend the day by visiting the other Rohingyans around Selangor.

“Last year I celebrated with my friend’s family in Perlis. The celebration in Malaysia is much merrier and peaceful as the people here respects each other despite the different race and religion.”

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Rohingya Exodus