Rohingyas facing more xenophobia amid the Covid-19 pandemic: activists | The Daily Star
08:13 PM, July 09, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:00 PM, July 09, 2020

Rohingyas facing more xenophobia amid the Covid-19 pandemic: activists

Rohingya activists have urged the host countries to stop hatred against them and treat them as human beings, saying the refugees, who have fled genocidal acts in Myanmar, are now facing a higher level of xenophobia amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Stating that countries like Malaysia and Thailand had refused entry to Rohingyas who tried to go on their shores citing fears of coronavirus infection, they said it was not their choice to take such risky journeys but the grave rights violations back in Myanmar had forced them to do so.

Rohingya activist Sujauddin Karimuddin from Australia claimed that he got a call from a woman just two days back and said one of her two kids in Rakhine had tuberculosis but she had no access to medical service. To go to the town, she needed a $150 for a travel permit.

When she managed that, the transport provider demanded double and triple the regular fare, saying radical Buddhists could attack the car if he carried her, he claimed.

"You see, in the West if I have a passport, I can travel anywhere in the world. In Rakhine, it is very difficult. That's why people take whatever means they can to escape from where they are denied basic human rights," he said.

The observations came at an eSymposium on "Hunger, Exploitation, Hate Crime and Xenophobia: Rohingyas in Land and at Sea" jointly organised by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) and Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC) today.

Sharifah Shakirah, director of Rohingya Women Development Network in Malaysia, said Rohingyas take perilous sea journey for a better life though they face tortures on the way and after arrival. That only proves how dire the situation is back home.

Speakers said with a plethora of discriminatory rules, famine like conditions prevail in northern Rakhine where Myanmar government continues to pursue its genocidal policies against the Rohingya in violation of the explicit order of the International Court of Justice to protect the Rohingya.

There are more than one million Rohingyas in Bangladesh, 300,000 in Saudi Arabia, 150,000 in Malaysia, 30,000 in India and tens of thousands more scattered across the world.

Shakira said hatred and xenophobia can never result in anything good, but love and solidarity can.

"We are the same human being like you and need the same basic rights which you enjoy. Please don't hate us. We don't want to be a burden. Allow us to work, study and stand by us. We will surely return home," she said.

The foreign investors in Myanmar should create pressure if Myanmar does not stop genocidal policies and practices against Rohingya in Rakhine state, Free Rohingya Coalition Coordinator Nay San Lwin from Germany said. "Once the citizenship is guaranteed, we are repatriated to our original villages and Rohingya identity is recognised, we will definitely return to Rakhine."

RMMRU Executive Director Prof CR Abrar called for reparation from Myanmar to the host countries that are bearing the cost of sheltering Rohingyas and a strong global stance to make sure Myanmar enforces the ICJ order to stop Rohingya genocide.

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