I was sold as slave in Thailand, says Rohingya man


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 17 May 2015

SIK: Persecuted, beaten up, abused, arrested and sold as a slave. The life of a Rohingya can be very difficult.

Din is a 45-year-old Rohingya man who has been in Malaysia for 24 years. He lives here with his wife, also a Rohingya, and their seven-month-old baby.

He got his United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) card in 2004 and now makes ends meet as an odd job worker at construction sites.

It saddens him to see how his people are being persecuted in their own country.

“We have rights too. We are human beings and we just want to live. Why is everyone kicking us like we are objects?

“Please do not treat us like that,” said Din, who himself has suffered many hardships in his struggle to stay in Malaysia.

Din, who now speaks fluent Bahasa Malaysia, first came to the country through Thailand in 1991 from his hometown in Sittwe, Rakhine state.

“I have been detained six times in Malaysia and sent back to Thailand. Each journey has been bitter.

“In 1995, I was detained and sent back to Thailand after a few months.

“Once I was released, I was immediately sold to a group of fishermen.

“Those were the worst two years of my life. Don’t ask me about them.

“I go crazy just thinking about that time,” he said.

“I escaped two years later with the help of a lady who sent me to a bus stop and I made my way to Malaysia overland.”

Din justified the Rohingya exodus from Myanmar, saying that they had no choice but to flee the country because of the oppression there, which he said got worse in 2012 after the Muslim-Buddhist riots.

“We have no means to continue our education. We are unable to work.

“Our own government is mistreating us,” Din told reporters at the Immigration Detention Centre in Belantik, 35km from here.

The Myanmar government re­fuses to accept the Rohingya as citizens and considers them illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Din was at the detention centre with non-governmental organisation Penang Stop Human Traf­ficking Campaign.

The group had brought food supplies to pass to the 1,158 Ro­­hingya and Bangladeshi who were detained in Langkawai recently, but they were not allowed in by the authorities.

Din also expressed hope that the United Nations would send peace­­keepers to Myanmar to resolve the situation.

Related stories:

Journey through hell and beyond

Following a trail of desperation and lost hope

Village headman held for human trafficking

‘Allow boat people to come ashore’

Refugees not treated with respect in Malaysia, say NGOs

Migrants turn on each other

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