'I am a Muslim. I have no place in Myanmar'

'I am a Muslim. I have no place in Myanmar'

LANGKAWI: The "skeleton" of a wooden boat was all that remained of a failed attempt by migrants, believed to be Rohingyas, to enter Malaysia through Padang Matsirat here in 2012.

Clumps of grass grew inside the decaying boat's hull, inviting on-lookers to wonder about the fate of its passengers.

Villager Azali Nanyan, 32, said about 50 Rohingya refugees arrived on the boat three years ago, but were almost immediately picked up by the authorities.

Within walking distance of the abandoned vessel was a construction site, where a group of Rohingya UNHCR cardholders have been making ends meet for years.

Mahmud Inus, 42, recalled the abject conditions that Rohingyas had to endure in their hometown of Rakhine state.

"I am a Muslim. I have no place in Myanmar. We are not recognised as citizens. They kill Muslims there. The rift between Muslims and Buddhists have been going on for 25 years," he lamented.

Mahmud arrived in Malaysia 11 years ago, entering the country through Thailand on a ship.

Fellow construction worker Faizal Ahmad, 35, arrived a few years later with the same goal - to pursue a better life for him and his family.

"There were many mosques in Myanmar, but they were locked and bolted. We weren't allowed to pray, we couldn't practise our faith.

"My kids weren't allowed to have an education; they couldn't learn how to read books.

"There were no job opportunities. Even if there were, the employers took half of our salaries," he said.

Mahmud said the Rohingyas were taking a big risk by travelling to Malaysia on ships, as the nightmare would not end even after they set foot on land.

"Those who are not able to pay the captains RM10,000 (S$3710) will be shot dead," he said.

Asked who were the people running the human trafficking operation and ordering the killing, Mahmud simply described them as "Siam".

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