International advocacy group calls for govt to speak up against anti-Rohingya hate speech

General view of a Rohingya settlement in Bandar Baru Sentul, Kuala Lumpur April 24, 2020. — Picture Hari Anggara
General view of a Rohingya settlement in Bandar Baru Sentul, Kuala Lumpur April 24, 2020. — Picture Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 — An international Rohingya rights advocacy group today urged the Malaysian government to hold those spreading hate speech against refugees in the country accountable.

The Burmese Rohingya Organisation United Kingdom (Brouk) said that Rohingya refugees in Malaysia have been the target of ire on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

“These developments appear to have been sparked by rumours that Rohingya have been ignoring lockdown orders to contain the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said in a statement.

Brouk called upon all Rohingya in Malaysia to strictly follow the rules, including restrictions during the pandemic and said the Rohingyas are not seeking citizenship in Malaysia, but only protection until it is safe to go back to Myanmar.

“We appeal to the Malaysian government, including Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, to condemn hate speech and other forms of abuse against the Rohingya. We also ask the authorities to investigate this abuse and hold those responsible to account.

“Brouk is grateful towards successive Malaysian governments who have spoken out against the horrific abuses against the Rohingya in Myanmar. While most regional South-east Asian governments have remained silent, Malaysia has shown courage and leadership by condemning the ongoing genocide,” the group said.

It also expressed its gratitude to the authorities and Malaysian people as a whole for hosting tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees for decades, and for their strong political support for the Rohingya in the face of the ongoing genocide in Myanmar.

“We want to thank those political and religious leaders who have already spoken out in support of Rohingya refugees — your words have been invaluable. Approximately 100,000 Rohingya are currently registered with UNHCR in Malaysia.

“Generations of Rohingya have found safety in Malaysia, and we deeply appreciate the strong bonds between Rohingya and Malaysian people, families and communities that have been built up for decades,” Brouk said.

On Friday, the head of a local Rohingya rights advocacy group issued a statement to deny making several inflammatory remarks attributed to him online.

Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia president Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani claimed the remarks, in which he supposedly labelled Malays as stupid, demanded equal rights with Malaysian citizens and full citizenship for Rohingyas among others, resulted in numerous death threats through phone calls, WhatsApp, and on Facebook.

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