Rohingya refugees are neglected by regional xenophobia

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Malaysia, Thailand, UN
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rohingya. An oppressed stateless community, courtesy of regional xenophobia, racism and a prevalent caste system that robs them of their identity.

Art work by @akrockefeller

Art work by @akrockefeller

As reported by Aljazeera, there are 37,000 Rohingya in Thailand who fled anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar (Burma), and 8 have died in detention centers.

There seems to be a lack of organization on the handling of refugee cases whether from the immigration department or the human rights organizations based in Thailand. And what about the needs of the Rohingya community? As per my discussions with refugees since 2011, they are keen to travel to Malaysia and or even to Indonesia, and have no intention of permanently living in Thailand.

Yet the politics of borders, and the reality of racial-prejudices by the Malaysian government, ultra Melayu nationalists and societal disdained of refugees, the Rohingya have very little opportunity. Malaysia, among others, do not recognize the word “refugee” and instead see anyone without legitimate travelling papers as “illegal immigrant” – something that UNHCR and local NGOs are aware but can’t or won’t do anything to convince the govt.

So in the mean time, Rohingya and other minority refugees will continue to live in Thai detention centers and every day they will pray for Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country, to accept them based on humanitarian grounds, that is what is to be expected from Muslim solidarity that is professed during the many lavish Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conferences… but in truth, not practiced.

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