Rohingya are Muslim outcasts, not welcome anywhere

By AMBIKA AHUJA and MICHAEL CASEY, Associated Press Writers Ambika Ahuja And Michael Casey, Associated Press Writers Sat Feb 14, 12:03 pm ET

AP – Muhammad Syafirullah, one of Rohingya boat people rescued by Acehnese fishermen lies on a hospital bed …

BANGKOK, Thailand – For generations, the ethnic Muslim Rohingya have endured persecution by the ruling junta of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country.

The plight of the Rohingya, descendants of Arab traders from the 7th century, gained international attention over the past month after five boatloads of haggard migrants were found in the waters around Indonesia and the Andaman Islands.

But unlike the Kurds or the Palestinians, no one has championed the cause of the Rohingya. Most countries, from Saudi Arabia to Malaysia, see them as little more than a source of cheap labor for the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs.

“The Rohingya are probably the most friendless people in the world. They just have no one advocating for them at all,” said Kitty McKinsey, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. “Hardly any of them have legal status anywhere in the world.”

There are an estimated 750,000 Rohingya living in Myanmar’s mountainous northern state of Rakhine, which borders Bangladesh. Thousands flee every year, trying to escape a life of abuse that was codified in 1982 with a law that virtually bars them from becoming citizens.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s military government did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment. It has repeatedly denied abusing the Rohingya, though Amnesty International said the junta has described them as less than human. Rights groups have documented widespread abuses, including forced labor, land seizures and rape.

“It was like living in hell,” said Mohamad Zagit, who left after soldiers confiscated his family’s rice farm and then threw him in jail for praying at a local mosque. The 23-year-old spoke from his hospital bed in Thailand, where he had been detained after fleeing Myanmar.

“We have no rights,” said Muhamad Shafirullah, who was among 200 migrants rescued by the Indonesian navy last week. He recalled how he was jailed in Myanmar, his family’s land stolen and a cousin dragged into the jungle and shot dead. “They rape and kill our women. We can’t practice our religion. We aren’t allowed to travel from village to village … It’s almost impossible, even, to get married or go to school.”

Twice since the 1970s, waves of attacks by the military and Buddhist villagers forced hundred of thousands of Rohingya to flee over the border to Bangladesh, a Muslim country whose people speak a similar language. Many have since been repatriated, but 200,000 still work there as illegal migrants and another 28,000 live in squalid refugee camps.

Violence against Rohingya women is common, and they face the threat of prison because of their illegal status, said Chris Lewa, coordinator of the Bangkok-based Arakan Project, an advocacy group for the Rohingya. Thousands of Rohingya have taken to the seas from Bangladesh in search of better jobs, but ended up drowning or at the mercy of traffickers.

For years, the Rohingya traveled to the Middle East for work, with nearly a half million ending up in Saudi Arabia.

But in recent years — partly because of bureaucratic hurdles faced by Muslims following 9/11 — many now try to go instead by boat to Thailand and then overland to Malaysia, another Islamic nation.

But even those who make it to Malaysia then struggle find good jobs and quickly discover that, there too, intolerance is growing. Many of the 14,300 Rohingya in Malaysia live in cramped, rundown apartments in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and face the constant threat of deportation, community leaders said. If caught, the migrants can be caned and imprisoned for up to five years.

Yet most refugee advocates expect Rohingya migrants will keep coming.

“My 14 children rely on me. They have no safety, no food, nothing,” said Mohamad Salim, a 35-year-old, bearded fisherman who also was detained and hospitalized in Thailand and begged to be allowed to continue onto Malaysia.

“What will they eat? How will they live if I don’t find work?” he said, his voice trembling.

Associated Press writer Irwan Firdaus contributed to this report from Idi Rayeuk, Indonesia; Casey in Bangkok; Ahuja in Ranong; Julia Zappei in Malaysia and Farid Hossain in Bangladesh contributed to this report.

SHAHRUL PESHAWAR – The Myanmar Junta is adopting the same policy used by Thailand towards muslim.  In Thailand they accept Muslim group known as Thai Muslim, but treating double standard for other Muslim such as the Malay.  As per Myanmar, they too accept Muslim in the country but not a Rohingya Muslim, it is a pity to them.  Rohingyan Muslim is not a new group of races, they had existed much earlier and they had formed their own dynasties back in 16th Century and even had various diplomatic missions abroad.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Rohingya are Muslim outcasts, not welcome anywhere

  1. sanooaung

    Please change the Racial discrimination and favouritism in education practiced amongst foreigners, migrants and refugees

    I have a friend named, San Lin Aung @ Altaff (real name) in Kuala Lumpur.He is physically handicapped but well educated, up to university level in Myanmar, intellectually and financially quite stable, middle class Rohingya.

    As a refugee and a handicapped person, he appreciated the value of education and wish to give his only daughter a good education. As the private schools fees are exuberant beyond his capability, he tried very hard to enlist his daughter at a government school. He even searched a Malay friend who would be willing to help him by legally adopting his daughter to be able to attend the Malay government school but failed.

    At last he found a veteran member of the ruling party , Encik Ramli bin Samah (real name) , handicapped person but could use some cables in high places because of his good connections. (This poor kindhearted Samaritan is now paralyzed and went back to his hometown Kelantan.) He sent San Lin Aung to the director of education. The director was very cooperative because he knew that Ramli was even very closed to the education minister and once appeared in in the front page photograph of a newspaper at the side of Tun Dr M. But at last the director asked for San Lin Aung’s passport however as a refugee San Lin Aung did not have any.

    Then the director told him bluntly that nowadays even foreign professionals working with government are not allowed to study in government schools with some few exceptions who had cables, refugees are totally not allowed and encouraged to send to private schools. (Government salaries are actually not enough even for the specialist doctors and most of them have to keep their children at home or send back to Burma to study.)

    But Malaysian Government GENEROUSLY built 3000 schools (not one school for three thousand students but THREE THOUSAND SCHOOLS in Sabah alone for the ILLEGALS there. Clear case of racial discrimination on foreigners!)

    As San Lin Aung knew all these, he was angry retorted and remarked the director that their so called Muslim government is far more worse than Kafir / non believer military junta. Not only the education director but Mr Ramli was angry. San Lin Aung angrily explained that even those military generals allowed his wife and him to study in the university but here, his daughter was even denied of basic primary education.

    He told me later that his late father U Shwe Tha Aung ran away from his family home in Arakan because parents asked him to stop study and help family business. First time was during the British rule, Burma and India were together as one country and went on foot to India with one Kyat of Burmese currency in his pocket. He managed to arrive India by hitchhiking the good samaritans. He got good marks and managed to even get a scholarship in a mission school. After passing matriculation, he came back to Arakan but need to run away from his home, walk on-foot to Yangon and later hitchhiking the good samaritans.

    So, no wonder he have his father’s blood to seek education and as I had mentioned above, he is handicapped and later even need to use a wheel-chair and it progressed to the weakness of his hands. But he is not a beggar but even have enough savings and could still continue to earn a good income.

    Although the Muslim countries and Muslim leaders shamelessly refused to help his family, now with the help of UNHCR, he is in Sweeden and that Christian government promised not only to take care of his family but even provide free medical care and free education to his daughter.

    My only worry is, if he is no more here on earth (may be Allah could even call me first) and if his young daughter appreciated the Christians’ kind heart too much and later convert, I am worried about the so called ISLAMIC LEADERS who may need to answer and take responsibility for their unkind act and discriminations which may lead to that possible renouncing of Islam, in front of Allah.

    I hope and pray that all the Muslim refugees rejected by Muslim countries but accepted by kind hearted Christians would stay strong in their faith and remain as good Muslims loyal to their host countries and not to commit treason by involving in terrorist activities.

    Next PM Datuk Seri Najib had promised, as reported on the front page of newspapers that he would directly grant citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants who could become Medical Doctors. So there is hope that he will kindly allow all the migrant children a chance of education.

    DSAI, Encik Azmin Ali and friends had helped a lot of Burmese migrants when they were in power. Many are graduated and some even got Masters and PhDs. May ALLAH keep their heart as before if they have a chance again.

    I have wrote to Pak Lah about the Rohingya doctor, Dr Kamal who failed to get even the PR after 14 years in Malaysia but got it in just THREE MONTHS in Australia and now he got the FULL CITIZENSHIP WITHIN ONLY TWO YEARS.

    Dear Pak Lah, we all know that you have kind heart and even lack the cruel cunning mind to prolong your PM-ship. Please leave a legacy by helping the migrants with a chance to stay and education.

    Actually we all love Malaysia, love all the leaders and are willing to show our loyalty even with our lives if Malaysia needs. Please don’t forced us out to non-Muslim countries.

    The above is my comment in_

    For Pak Lah, the party’s over and it’s time to leave — The Malaysian Insider , FEBRUARY 14 2009

    • shahrulpeshawar

      I’ll see how I can assist your friend.

      Rohingya is my brother. I knew the guy that you had mentioned to Pak Lah, Dr. Kamal. I’ve been working along with him for a period of time. At that time he got two son, I didnt know how many now.

      I’ve been together with some Rohingya’s brother from ARIF and RSO, and those who had studied in USM, UIA, those in Islamic Outreach ABIM and those vegetables and fish traders in Pasar Borong Selayang.

      Keep in touch, let see what we can do together.

  2. sanooaung

    Myanmar SPDC is trying to make a political diversion with anti-Muslim riots

    Dear Democratic Brothers and Sisters of all religious groups

    Peace, prosperity and good health be with all of you

    Myanmar SPDC is trying to make a political diversion with anti-Muslim riots

    A group affliated to SPDC Junta and its intelligent arm in Myanmar is trying to make a political diversion because of the political quagmire and economic turmoil. Their target is to made a sacrificial lamb to the Muslims in Myanmar with the another racial riiots as usual. We can see some clue through their propaganda online and other medias in land and abroad.

    Dear friends of democratic forces, You all are kindly requested to make a political diversion too, instead of replying their accusations, because it is their trap and no use to explain the wolf that disturbing the waters upstream is not the lamb’s fault.

    Please may you kindly inform your friends, relatives, fellow political bloggers and contact BBC, VOA and RFA etc and explain that some pro military junta groups are creating to start riots among Buddhists and Muslims communities in order to divert the political situations.

    Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Sayadaws (Buddhists Monks) got understanding and cooperation during last September revolution. There is an an urgent need to contact all other medias to spread this issue of diversion which could derail the desired democratic transformation.

    SPDC is now scared that the present economic downturn would worsen because of the vicious circle of massive deflation which is pulling all the economic activities to a standstill. Trade and production is in the danger of stagnation. They are also feeling the heat of world’s pressure including the UNSG’s office and UNGA where their greedy could not protect them.

    Moreover 2010 is comming soon and their much publisized road map must be derailed so that continue the military ruling. They understand that these factors if all combined would force the people of Myanmar on to the streats against them.

    SPDC’s problems must be made a focal point for all the democratic forces to force the stuborn military rulers to give back the power to the real owner people and their duly trusted and elected NLD led by our beloved leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Now the SPDC is trying the people and world’s attention with another anti-Muslim riots.

    Please kindly understand the situation and if we Muslims are wrong, kindly guide us, teach us but do not let the SPDC to do the dirty job of racial riots that will derail our second revolution to topple the military dictator generals.

    * Ah Yae daw pone – Aung ya myi
    * Bae thu thwe khwe khwe-Do ma Kye
    * Sit ahr nar shin sanit-Choke nyein ya myi

    May God Guide us and Save all the people of Burma who want to change for a better life.

    Concerned democratic brother who got the secret information

    Sit Mone, San Oo Aung, Tun Aung and friends

    Please read the following links_
    http://sanooaung.wordpress.com/2009/01/10/muslims-prohibited-from-worshipping-and-reading-of-the-quran-in-residential-flats/#more-6265

    http://sanooaung.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/the-military-government-ministry-of-home-affairs-is-conducting-a-training-programme-to-spark-communal-riots-by-using-instigators-between-bamar-and-local-burmese-muslim-community/#more-7325

    http://sanooaung.wordpress.com/2009/02/07/be-careful-spdc-the-present-nationalistic-activity-is-anti-islam-but-they-are-actually-targeting-you-spdc-and-the-military-rule/#more-7347

    http://sanooaung.wordpress.com/2009/02/11/malaysian-government-should-review-the-punishment-of-two-rohingyas-who-assaulted-and-burnt-myanmar-embassy/#more-7412

    http://sanooaung.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/myanmar-spdc-is-trying-to-make-a-political-diversion-with-anti-muslim-riots/#more-7309

  3. Pingback: Please change the Racial discrimination and favouritism in education practiced amongst foreigners, migrants and refugees « San Oo Aung’s Weblog

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