Wednesday, 03 June 2020

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: The Rohingya Information Centre (RIC) has expressed its solidarity with the struggle for survival by Rohingyas in Malaysia.

“There are about 10,000 Rohingyas living in Malaysia. Among them, 1,000 stay in the Klang Valley. There are no illegal Burmese traders in Selayang Market but about 200 Rohingyas work legally in the market. They do odd jobs like cleaning vegetables and sell fish. None of them are illegal traders outside the market,” said Rohingya Information Centre advocate Sawmee Ullah. 

Sawmee referred to an April 13 report where market traders claimed that the Rohingyas were robbing them of their business. Rohinya refugees from Burma are trading illegally near the new Pasar Borong Selayang. The Rohinyas buy discarded vegetables from wholesalers at the market and sell them at a low price to consumers. So brisk is their business that the area where the Rohinyas have set up stalls is known as the “Burmese street”.

“Many ethnic tribes, including the Rohingyas, from Burma have entered Malaysia,” he said. “But the illegal traders comprise Muslims from Burma, not the Rohingyas.”

RIC secretary-general Haji Mubarak bin Abu Bashar and deputy secretary-general Mohd Yahya bin Ahmad said Rohingyas were part of a tribe that live in Arakan, a province in North West Burma.

“A common misconception is that all Muslims from Burma are Rohingyas,” he said. “Yes, Rohingyas are Muslims, but they are a different ethnic group.” 

“The Rohingyas were expelled from Burma after the military took over in 1962,” said Mubarak, adding that some 1.3 million of them fled to all parts of the world, including Malaysia. 

“We were citizens of Burma, but the military regime took away that right,” he said. “We had to seek help from UNHCR and the UN Refugee Agency,” added Mubarak, who has been in Malaysia since 1994. 

In 2004, the Malaysian Government granted temporary stay permits to Rohingya refugees. 

About two to three Rohingya families live in a house and most parents’ fear their children will have to face a hard life like them. The youth are not Malaysian citizens.

In Kuala Lumpur the Rohingyas stay mostly in Ampang and Taman Desa. They speak Bahasa Malaysia and do odd jobs to eke out a living.