KUALA LUMPUR: The Rohingya community in Malaysia is appealing to the government to give it legal status and to allow its members employment and educational opportunities.
Ziaur Rahman, an activist representing registered Rohingya refugees in Malaysia, also wants the Pakatan Harapan government to fulfil its election pledge to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention, which will ease the problems faced by the community here.
“Without access to the legal status, safe and lawful employment and formal education, we keep facing arbitrary arrest and detention, exploitation and abuse,” Ziaur wrote to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He expressed concern about the ongoing raids on refugees, “when the last possessions or money are being taken away by the police officers”.
He said: “Rohingya people are not illegal migrants in this country, they are not here with an intention to inflict harm or steal the jobs that belong to the local people. We are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society, yet we have been deprived of protection or care.”
Saying registered Rohingya refugees have been living in Malaysia for “a long time, some of us for decades”, he urged the new government to draw up a clear road map to resolve the issue.
Ziaur said: “We would like to recall Pakatan Harapan’s statements made during the election campaign, where the coalition promised to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and legitimise the status of refugees, protect their rights in accordance with international standards.
“PH also committed itself to address the Rohingya crisis and the issue of transnational human trafficking. As refugees, we were encouraged by the PH’s manifesto’s promises, that our life has chances for a significant improvement.
“Are these plans going to be implemented and if so, when?”
He said previous governments have not made any significant effort in recognising the refugees’ legal status.
“The previous government adopted some policies in favour of certain groups of refugees without a clear road map for the future, assuming it has a role of only a temporary host.”
He appealed to the government to stand up for the oppressed and cease the anti-refugee raids, “as well as to fulfill your pre-election promises with regards to the 1951 Refugee Convention and to ratify it immediately”.
He also urged Putrajaya to be vocal about the sufferings inflicted on the Rohingyas by the Myanmar government, which have led to people fleeing that country.