Number of growing casualties played down by authorities, says refugee
ROHINGYAS in Malaysia are claiming that media reports on the death toll in the Arakan region of Myanmar are grossly inaccurate, saying thousands of Rohingya villagers have become casualties of the growing unrest.
Contractor Abul Kasim, 34. who has been staying in Malaysia for the past 10 years, said the reported numbers were played down by the Myanmar authorities.
"This (the violence) is nothing new. It has been going on for some time, many years, in fact. All these years, there has been only discrimination, but the mass murders only started recently," said Abul Kasim, who fled Myanmar about a decade ago to escaped the mistreatment of Rohingyas by the Myanmar junta.
"They (army personnel) raped my cousin in front of me. They were hunting me down after realising I witnessed the incident. I couldn't take it any longer and decided to come to Malaysia to start a new life.
"I later learned that my cousin committed suicide." Abul Kasim was one of 30 Rohingyas who volunteered to pack supplies provided by Kelab Putera 1Malaysia, bound for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh next week.
"This is the only way I can help my fellow Rohingyas," he said. Abul Kasim said his father still lived in Yangon but had been stripped off all his property and land.
"My uncle still lives in villages near Arakan. From my last conversation with him, their homes have been burned and they are homeless," he said.
"We don't want anything from the government of Myanmar. We just want our freedom and citizenship." Abul Kasim said the Rohingyas who left Myanmar were not refugees trying to escape poverty as thought by many.
"It's not about money. We have millions worth of properties in Myanmar but they have been burnt down," he said.
"We were forced to travel all over the world, yet our hearts were never at peace because of what is happening."
He said he was hopeful that pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu-Kyi would be able to address the issue.
"We still support her. We understand her difficult situation."