Don’t fear speaking up for Rohingya, says Anwar

(FMT) –  Rohingya refugees who arrive in Malaysia could be accommodated at special and controlled areas, while Malaysia draws up plans to send them to another country, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim suggested today.

Speaking in a video broadcast over Facebook, Anwar urged political leaders and elders to speak up about the Rohingya problem and not fear a backlash.

“Last time, there was even a demonstration in support of the Rohingya, but now they are quiet because they are scared the people would get angry,” he said. However, politicians must also take a stand in human rights issues, although citizens should take priority.

Anwar’s remarks came amid a spate of hate speech on social media aimed at the Rohingya community after Malaysia turned away a boat carrying about 200 people from a refugee camp in Bangladesh.

Elaborating on comments he made previously, which has received a backlash on social media, Anwar said he had never supported granting Malaysian citizenship to the refugees.

He said the Rohingya had never asked for Malaysian citizenship but had asked to be granted Myanmar citizenship. The Rohingya, who are mainly found in Rakhine state in Myanmar, are regarded as stateless people by the Myanmar government.

Anwar said if the Rohingya refugees were to be sent back to Myanmar, ” they would be restricted, and even shot at”. They should be put together in a controlled area while Malaysia worked out how to send them to a third country.

He also compared the Rohingya crisis to that of the Palestinians, who are persecuted by the Israeli government.

Malaysia should also put pressure on Myanmar to solve the problem. “Myanmar should actually pay back the Malaysian government for the amount of money we have spent on them,” he said.