Exclusive – Appeal from a Member of the Rohingya Muslim Community in Burma
Dear brother and sisters,
I hope you are all well and safe. I have had the pleasure of being friends with a number of Pakistanis, and am always interested in events there. Being a student of history, I know of the thousands of Burmese-Rohingyas who migrated to Pakistan decades ago and now live there happily in great places like Karachi with notable Pakistani-Rohingyas being Eric G. Hall (Pakistan Air Force fighter pilot of Anglo-Burmese origin), Ashraf Tai (Pioneer of Bando Karate in Pakistan), and Rakshanda Khattak (Pakistan’s first supermodel and actress). Rohingyas will always be grateful of the hospitality of our Pakistani brothers.
I have also been watching with extreme concern the violence that terrorism and other ills have unleashed upon your beautiful country – you have been suffering for a long time and we all pray for you. But we are also glad that you have people in your country who defend you against these threats, who protect you against this enemy. You have a government and a very strong army. This is why no matter what threats you face, we are confident that you will be victorious over them.
But the Rohingyas have none of this. We have no army, we have no government, we have no protection, we have no support (except from some charitable individuals), we have no help and this is why we are dying. This is why we are being murdered in our thousands. Because of our unique history we have none of these things and without these things we are an easy target. My objective in this appeal to you is not to talk of politics, or of who belongs where, or who is killing us. This is all open information, the whole world knows. The whole world is aware of how we have been killed, raped, tortured by groups of racist fanatics, whilst the Burmese government largely does nothing, and of how in our search for freedom abroad many of us have been sold into slavery. You all know this too. Beyond the doctored photos of massacres which are shared on social media, there are a real people with real issues. Existential issues. And whilst the world media is finally documenting our plight, apart from a few countries, the international community has remained silent – we do not have oil, we are not strategic, and so we are ignored.
But my Pakistani friends, I know that you have not ignored us, and that we remain in your prayers as you do in ours. This is why I am appealing to you to help us once again. I appeal to the Pakistani citizens to send whatever they can spare through aid agencies – we all know of the big hearts of Pakistanis!
But even more importantly, I am appealing to you to pressure your government into action. Pakistan and China share a very close relationship. And right now only the Chinese leadership has the power and influence to make the Burmese government fulfil its duty of protecting its citizens – Buddhist and Muslim alike. No matter what some propagandists say, history proves that the Rohingya have been living in this part of the Burma for centuries. And we want to continue living here, in our own ancestral homes, in peace and security. This is the only solution. There is nowhere else for us to go. Please do what you can as civil society and individuals to pressure your government to talk to the Chinese leadership. If there is enough pressure the Chinese government will listen as it does not want negative publicity or other obstacles to its strategic investments in Burma.
We want to live in peace, as full citizens of Burma in a peaceful society. We want a stop to the genocidal persecution of our people. We want to resettle in our own homes as before June 2012. We want all Rohingya political prisoners to be released. We want our rights restored. We want to be able to pray in the mosques and our children to attend school. We want those who have been involved in crimes against humanity to be punished. We want no discrimination based on race or religion. And we want our dignity restored.
My Pakistani friends, will you help us?
The author is a Rohingya activist who is currently in hiding in Myanmar. The author’s name, location and any other identifying markers have been withheld because of threats from the Myanmar security services.