Dreams from a Rohingya: A letter to Malaysians

My name is Abu Bakkar Siddik. I have been staying here in Malaysia since the end of 2013.

My destination was uncertain, unknown. I came here in a wooden boat on open sea.

I was trafficked many times, physically assaulted, psychologically and mentally tortured.

These memories still affect my life and I lie awake at night. Never did I dream that I would one day live in exile as a refugee.

In Myanmar, I was a humanitarian aid and social worker from 2007 to 2013 under an international NGO.

I still remember my previous life in the country where I was born, where I grew up and studied, and worked in the humanitarian field, managing around 40 employees.

Between June 2012 and the end of 2013, I was arrested three times in my hometown of Muangdaw by the Burmese government.

The last time, the Burmese regional combined armed forces raided my house to find me and kill me. I was not at home at that time. By the mercy of God, I am still alive, living as a refugee in Malaysia.

I did not come to Malaysia to seek citizenship, but to save myself. The same is true of all my fellow Rohingya, who came to seek security here in Malaysia and other Asean countries.

We Rohingya are always grateful to the Malaysian people and the government who saved our lives.

Our dream is to return to our homeland once the situation there stabilises. We hope the Malaysian government and its people continue to be hospitable.

It is a burden for a family if several guests come to stay with them for a few days. Yet, Malaysia has constantly helped the Rohingya refugees, accepting them as brothers and sisters. We have lived here for about two decades. We will abide by the laws and jurisdiction of Malaysia.

Today, we sleep at night without fear of arbitrary arrest and the mass killing which we experienced in our motherland.

Everyday, I keep in touch with my family at home. I believe one day justice will be served at the International Court of Justice, and that we will return. But due to an internet shutdown in Rakhine, we have not been able to communicate with our loved ones since February.

Today, many of us live in fear as some hateful comments have been posted on social media against the Rohingya.

To my fellow refugees, stay home, stay safe, and obey the laws. Don’t panic over recent attacks. Many of them helped us at the beginning of our refuge in Malaysia.

Abu Bakkar Siddik is a Rohingya refugee who lives in Penang.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

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