Rohingya: A story from a survivor down under

ADELAIDE, 23 Zulhijjah 1438H, Friday –‘Rohingya: A story to be told’ was a program that shed light on the current issue of Rohingya to the Malaysians and local community of Adelaide, South Australia. Organised by Isma activists in South Australia, the program managed to pull a large crowd of over 80 people comprised of Malaysians and international students, as well as local Muslims and non-Muslims of the community.

The aim of the program was to bring forth attention to the current events and get a clear understanding of what was happening to the people of Rohingya from an Isma activist, a Rohingya residing in Adelaide. Brother Akram Hussein, pharmacist graduate and current medical student studying in Flinders University enlightened the audience of the brief history, root causes and misconceptions of the conflict in Myanmar.

Rohingya, a Muslim minority group residing in the northwestern part of the Arakan state has deep roots in the land of Burma, currently known today as Myanmar. Their legitimate residency is grounded deep in the history of their origins which dates back to the ancient Arakan kingdom. Historical records proves that there have been Muslims living there since 1799. Islamic influence and artifacts even suggest that Muslims in Arakan existed since the 15th century.

In the past, Muslims and Buddhist coexisted and able to flourish together within Arakan but it all changed after the British won the Anglo-Burmese War in 1826. British occupancy of the land caused a disturbance of peace and the Japanese invasion that soon followed after only made it worse.

After Burma gained their independence in 1948, a change in administration led by the military coup in 1962 occurred, which took a bad turn for the people of Rohingya. Their citizenship since then has been on the assault and the start of an ethnic cleansing gradually becomes evident with the passing of time.

Even though the Rohingya ethnic have been occupying the land way before the change in government and is a part of the numerous ethnic groups residing in Myanmar, they are being treated as an outsider in their own home by the new administration.

The Rohingya crisis continued to develop over the course of time and multiple unrests have been occurring ever since. Legitimate efforts of self defence under the international law have been made by the people through the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) but that only stirred the conflict even more, giving doubtful reasons for the authorities to justify their amplified aggressive assault on the Rohingyan.

As a result, Rohingya muslims are forced to flee the country, seeking refuge from the neighboring nation and forced to look elsewhere for a place to call home. The numbers of Rohingya muslims that fled in 2017 is estimated to be 300,000. Those who choose to stay in Myanmar lives in internally displaced person (IDP) camps. Over 120,000 Rohingya IDPs exists within the Rakhine state alone.

The program concluded with a video presentation by an Isma activist, Muhammad Faiz Syahiran Noor Ismail together with Human Appeal International – Australia showcasing their recent humanitarian mission in Bangladesh which was aimed at giving aid and food supplies to the people of Rohingya seeking refuge in Bangladesh. A donation drive was also organized by Human Appeal International – Australia at the event as an effort to aid the people of Rohingya post program.

ADIB HAFIFI MD SOH
Member of Communication & Multimedia Bureau,
Isma Australia

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