Thursday, June 13, 2013

Myanmese Buddhists fear violence in Malaysia

Amy Chew in Kuala Lumpur 
Myanmese Buddhists in Malaysia have been living in fear for more than a year as they believe Muslim Rohingya are taking revenge on them for sectarian killings in their home country.
In the past week, two Buddhist Myanmese were killed and another two were critically injured in seven separate clashes in and around Kuala Lumpur.
"We are very worried. It's not safe. Something can happen at any time," said Maung Hla, chairman of the Burma Refugee Organisation in Malaysia.
"This trouble in Malaysia is because of trouble in Myanmar. You can say Rohingya are taking revenge here in Malaysia," Maung Hla added.
Malaysia is host to 94,760 Myanmese refugees, of whom 28,120 are Rohingya, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
One of the fatal attacks took place in Ampang, a district in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
"The victim was attacked by 10 men carrying machetes. He was sleeping in a car. Two others managed to run away," said a Myanmese community leader who declined to be named over fear for his safety.
The violence is believed to have compelled many Myanmese migrant workers to leave the country. "I can tell you many Myanmese workers are leaving Malaysia. Workers in Myanmar who got visas to come here to work are cancelling them because of the news of this violence," said the leader.
Violence among the Myanmese community started last year but drew little attention.
Anti-Rohingya violence flared in Rakhine state, western Myanmar a year ago, when 200 people were killed, and has since continued on and off.
In Malaysia, Muslim Myanmese have been looking out for their non-Muslim countrymen. "I have a friend who is driven to work every day by his Muslim Myanmese friend who is concerned about his safety," said the community leader.
A Rohingya refugee leader in Malaysia denied allegations his community was behind the recent violence. "How can we be behind the attacks? We are a minority here," said Abdul Ghani Abdul Rahman. "We don't know who attacked whom. We want peace."