If you think you are unfortunate, read their stories. This is a beautiful blog. My friend Alice Nah alerted me to it, and I am speechless.
“Fifty Refugees” tells the stories of those 50, ages ranging from infants to grandparents, of men, women and children, from varied backgrounds, from 3 different countries and 10 different ethnicities.
If you think our spaces are limited because we have no voice to speak our minds, theirs is a heartwrenching story of detention, abuse, fear, neglect, and humiliation.
Yet, if you think you will be depressed and dejected after reading their stories, you are wrong. Coz theirs are stories of “resilience, courage, hope and love as well”.
These are stories of “normal human beings, of flesh and blood, hopes and dreams, like you and me”.
READ also the message from Aris Oziar, who has been working on this website (inside). And my rather ‘depressing’ poem “With an earth like this, who needs hell”. Felt like I had refugees in mind when I wrote those lines.
Dear Malaysian Bloggers,
My name is Aris Oziar. For the past three months I have been working on a website project called FiftyRefugees. As the name implies, it chronicles the story of 50 refugees who currently call Malaysia their home.
This project is part of the 50-44 Merdeka Coalition (www.50-44.org ), a group of local NGOs who will conduct an alternative celebration of Merdeka in September after the official celebrations have died down. NGOs in their respective fields will touch on various issues, highlighting migrants, refugees, Orang Asli, the urban poor, race and religion etc.
Malaysia does not recognise the Geneva Refugee Convention, and partly as a result of this (we have other legal avenues to give them rights, such as IMM13 but the government has refused to act), Refugees in Malaysia who cross the border illegally or whose visa has lapsed are classified as Illegal Immigrants, subject to arrest and detention by the police, RELA and Immigration. They have restricted access to healthcare services and the children cannot go to government schools, effectively denying them education
As a Malaysian, I am outraged to hear their stories of Malaysia – 3 years of detention or living in makeshift jungle campsfear of arrest. Stories of a 6 year old girl whose last visit to town was 4 years ago (the mother is too afraid to bring her out), and her 55 year old father who eventually died because the police took all their money the one time they were desperate enough to go to the hospital to treat his illness. And of course, of the Malaysian immigration authorities dumping them across the border in Thailand, where they are rounded up by agents and either pay these agents to get back to Malaysia , or face slave labour – the men in fishing boats and the women, probably sold to the sex trade. jungle due to
I want average Malaysians to know. To know that refugees do exist in Malaysia . To know that they braved a dangerous journey to Malaysia to escape atrocities in their own country. To know that most of them live a margnal life, often exploited, almost always in fear.
We have tasted independence for the past 50 years. And yet, today, there are still people in this country who have none.
Please, if you have time, write about this issue or perhaps mention www.fiftyrefugees.wordpress.com . Malaysians read your blogs. I want them to know.