Myan­mar refugees long to re­turn home

New Straits Times - - News -

ALOR STAR: “I have a good life here but I wish one day, I can re­turn to Myan­mar. I want to die and be buried in my home­land.”

Those were the words of 50year-old Mohd Noor Abu Bakar, a Rohingya who has sought refuge in Kedah since 1984.

Although he is liv­ing a bet­ter life com­pared with the suf­fer­ing his com­mu­nity mem­bers are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in Arakan, Myan­mar, Noor is cling­ing on to the hope that he could one day re­turn to re­turn his home.

“I’m a Myan­mar cit­i­zen. I want to re­turn to my coun­try and die as a Myan­mar cit­i­zen and be laid to rest in my home­town,” he told the New Sun­day Times.

How­ever, Noor knew in his heart that it was not easy based on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in his home­town.

The chair­man of Kedah chap­ter of the Myan­mar Eth­nic Rohingya Hu­man Rights Or­gan­i­sa­tion Malaysia (Mehrom) claimed that the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment lacked hon­esty in find­ing a last­ing so­lu­tion to the prob­lem af­fect­ing the Rohingya.

Noor said the army and po­lice were sid­ing with the Rakhine eth­nic group, which had mi­grated from Bangladesh to Arakan, as part of a plan to edge out the Rohingya from their land.

“The Myan­mar gov­ern­ment has claimed that the Rohingya are not na­tive cit­i­zens, which is a lie. We have never wanted to leave our land. We have our homes, fam­i­lies and padi farms there. Why we are de­nied from our rights? If we are not Myan­mar cit­i­zens, why has the Rohingya com­mu­nity been em­ployed as gov­ern­ment ser­vants be­fore?

“It seems that af­ter the Rakhine eth­nic group be­gan build­ing its com­mu­nity in Arakan, the Rohingya have been de­nied their right to cit­i­zen­ship,” he said.

Noor pleaded to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, in par­tic­u­lar the United Na­tions (UN), to in­ter­vene and end per­se­cu­tion against the Rohingya.

He said the vi­o­lence against his com­mu­nity still hap­pened in Myan­mar.

“I have re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that on May 14, the army had picked up a man from Maung­daw district and burnt him alive.

“The vic­tim’s wife had lodged a re­port but ended up be­ing sen­tenced to six months’ jail, leav­ing their four daugh­ters home­less. I was also told that in Bussi Dong, the army had rounded up 32 women and raped them.”

Based on records, there were about 150,000 UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees card­hold­ers from 62 coun­tries in Malaysia as at Dec 31. It was es­ti­mated that 56,000 of them are Rohingya.

Mean­while, Mo­hamad Is­lam, 20, said he fled Myan­mar in 2014 af­ter the army threat­ened to burn his vil­lage.

“My par­ents told me to leave be­cause the authorities were round­ing up men. This had left me with no op­tion but to jump into a boat with 140 peo­ple to leave my coun­try.”

Mo­hamad said he paid around RM6,000 to a boat­man to bring him to Malaysia and had spent a month in it be­fore reach­ing the coun­try.

“I’m grate­ful for land­ing a job here but am wor­ried for my par­ents’ safety. I hope to re­turn home one day.”


Chair­man of the Kedah chap­ter of the Myan­mar Eth­nic Rohingya Hu­man Rights Or­gan­i­sa­tion Malaysia, Mohd Noor Abu Bakar (sec­ond from right), lead­ing a prayer for the vic­tims of the Wang Kelian de­ten­tion camp in Pokok Sena yes­ter­day.

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