2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 155

Thursday, June 18, 2015
The Honourable Leo Housakos, Speaker

Rohingya Muslims

Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, I would like to introduce you to Hussein Ahmed. Hussein is a 12-year-old Rohingya boy from Myanmar. Three years ago his father was killed in an act of violence against the Rohingya Muslims. He has lived alone with his mother in a camp near Sittwe, trying to make basic ends meet — food and water are scarce and education is just a concept.

Hussein was recently approached by an unknown broker who convinced Hussein that he could earn money abroad that would support him and his mother. Eager to support his widowed mother, Hussein boarded a boat in hopes of a brighter future.

Sadly, Hussein’s future was not as bright as expected. After months at sea in inhumane conditions, Hussein is displaced and looking for a home. Currently stationed at a temporary camp in Indonesia, Hussein spoke hopelessly about his future. He said:

I was born in Myanmar, but they don’t want me. I tried to go to Thailand or Malaysia, but I can’t go anywhere because they don’t want me. I was a kid back home, but now I have to be a man. I am in a different country alone. It’s up to God — whatever will happen next.

Hussein, at the tender age of 12, has no place to call home and is unsure if he will ever see his mother again.

Honourable senators, the story of Hussein is the fate of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who are either facing deplorable conditions in camps in their native country of Myanmar, or who have escaped those conditions only to be stranded at sea or placed in temporary refugee camps in neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand.

The Rohingya are suffering atrocities and need help. To stimulate awareness and to encourage change, I will begin posting biweekly updates on my website and Facebook page under the heading “A Place to Call Home: The Plight of the Myanmar Rohingya.” The posts will be dedicated to providing updates on the Rohingya crisis and sharing stories of the affected Rohingya. My hope in doing this is that we as a society can come together, motivate change and find a home for the Rohingya Muslims. I hope that Hussein and all the other children, husbands and wives who have been separated from each other can reunite with their families and live together in peace.

Honourable senators, I ask for your support of this mission. Together, let’s create awareness, promote change and make sure that the Rohingya do find a home. Thank you very much.