Myanmar refugees long to return home
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.