PETALING JAYA: Social media users have flooded Facebook and Twitter with hateful remarks against Rohingya refugees in the wake of fake news that an activist from the community demanded they be granted citizenship.
The fake news, attributed to Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, who heads the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia (Merhrom), came in the wake of reports that Malaysian authorities had blocked a boat carrying starving Rohingya refugees from landing.
Zafar has denied that he demanded citizenship for the refugees but checks by FMT on social media found that this clarification failed to quell the hateful remarks towards the community.
On Twitter, RameshRaoAKS said: “I appeal to the government to close UNHCR’s office in Malaysia immediately, cancel the recognition of the UN card for Rohingya immediately. No more immunity powers, catch them as other illegal migrants.”
Another Twitter user named Amir Putrajaya called on Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to respond to the “people’s anger” towards the Rohingya, saying they had become arrogant.
“Does the UNCHR card make them immune to the law? The time has come to cleanse this country of foreigners.”
“Please Tan Sri (Muhyiddin), resolve this Rohingya problem, send them all back. We Malaysians reject their presence and nonsensical demands,” said another user, Rahmat Ismail.
On Facebook, Zulkifly Mahmud and Marzuki Ab Rahman called on the government to send the Rohingyas home.
Another user, Vincent Cheong, said: “Chase the Rohingya refugees out, it is not our responsibility to look after them and they have become extremists and a threat to the social, security and health situation of the people and country.”
The government, he said, had the responsibility to protect 33 million Malaysians from being affected by “virus imported from the Rohingya”.
Lew Hong, meanwhile, accused the Rohingya of being arrogant and ungrateful.
“Don’t disturb us Malaysians as we are facing an economic downturn and cannot afford to support Rohingya anymore. Don’t use human rights as an issue to cheat and ask for help.”
Simon Malan said “Damn Rohingya. Send back as soon as possible”, while Mael Meek said “Go to hell. Go back to your country Rohingya.”
Henry Muthu Rayappan accused the Rohingya of being demanding, saying they were given “one inch, and (now) want one foot”.
Amnesty International voiced concern over the the discrimination and stereotyping of Rohingya and other refugees, saying “stereotypes that they are disease carriers are xenophobic and completely unsubstantiated”.
“The public’s attitude towards refugees is likewise fuelled by other lies: claims that refugees hold special privileges, monetary allowance and healthcare, thus depriving Malaysian citizens from accessing these services,” it said in a statement yesterday.
Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.