30 Mar 2018 – 19:20

Rohingya football club to show world 'we can succeed'

By Adem Salvarcioglu & Omer Faruk Yildiz / Anadolu

KUALA LUMPUR:  A football team formed in Malaysia by Rohingya who fled nearby Myanmar is working to raise their international profile and show what Rohingya can do when not suffering from oppression.

Rakhine Muslims who escaped ethnic cleansing and massacres in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state to find refuge in Malaysia in 2015 founded the Rohingya Football Club (RFK) in Kuala Lumpur.

“This team was founded to give Rakhine Muslims a voice in the world and show that Rakhine people can succeed as well,” Muhammed Nur, the club’s founder and chairman, told Anadolu Agency on Friday.

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“To date we’ve heard bad news about the Rakhine. Our goal is to give happy news about the Rakhine,” he remarked.

Stating that Rakhine Muslims are playing football all over the world, including teams in Canada, Australia, and Ireland, Nur said they hope to set up a national team from these clubs.

Nur added that in 2020 the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) will hold a World Cup tournament for minorities.

“We aim to qualify for this World Cup. Also, we want to go to the Asian Cup next year in Japan,” Nur said.

He added that they hope to get support from the Malaysian and Turkish governments to help them succeed at the international level.

“We will play against Turkey for sure if we get an invitation for a friendly match,” he said.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, some 750,000 refugees, mostly children and women, fled Myanmar when Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to the UN. At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.

In a report published on Dec. 12, the global humanitarian organization said that the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.