• Sunday, Apr 11, 2021
  • Last Update : 06:05 pm

Death threats, hate speech turn Rohingya activist's Malaysia home into a prison

  • Published at 10:44 am April 6th, 2021
Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani Rohingya Malaysia
Rohingya refugee and activist Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani cries during an interview with Reuters at his home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 19, 2021 Reuters

Zafar, who is registered with the UNHCR, applied to be moved to another country but his request was rejected

Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, a Rohingya Muslim refugee and activist who fled persecution and ethnic strife in Myanmar, has called Malaysia home for nearly three decades.

Now, it's more like a prison.

Zafar, 51, has not left his home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur for nearly a year, after misinformation spread online that he had demanded Malaysian citizenship, triggering a wave of hate speech and death threats against him and his family.

"I'm still scared. For a year, I've not set foot outside. I've not seen the earth outside," said the father of three.

Zafar has reported the false accusations and online attacks to the police, but to his knowledge, no charges have been filed. He has denied making any demand for citizenship or the same rights as citizens for Rohingyas in Malaysia.

More than 100,000 Rohingyas live in Muslim-majority Malaysia, long seen as friendly to the persecuted minority even though they are not officially recognized as refugees.

The welcoming sentiment soured a year ago as people started saying Rohingyas were spreading the then surging coronavirus.

Hate speech calling for violence against Rohingyas and other undocumented migrants spread widely online. A significant portion of the volume targeted Zafar, who heads a prominent Rohingya refugee rights organization.


Also Read - Bhashan Char better for living but focus must be on Rohingya return


Zafar still receives abusive calls and messages on his phone and social media accounts daily, and details and photos of his family have been circulated online, according to screenshots shown to Reuters.

His Malaysian wife, Maslina Abu Hassan, said the attacks have taken a heavy toll. Their children no longer attend school due to safety concerns, and last year, Zafar was diagnosed with depression and began taking medication to cope, she said.

Zafar, who is registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), applied to be moved to another country but his request was rejected after the agency said he did not meet its criteria for resettlement.

A UNHCR spokeswoman in Kuala Lumpur said in an email the agency could not comment on individual cases. Resettlement decisions depend on various factors, she said, but ultimately lie with any potential host countries.

Zafar said he hopes the agency will reconsider his case because he no longer feels safe in Malaysia.

"I cannot relax my body, my brain, my heart. I cry asking why people are doing this to me." 

68
Facebook 64
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail