The sold dream of the Rohingya
My name is Amina, I come from Arakan State in Burma and this is my story. My story may shock you and hopefully awaken your inner activist. Telling my story has been a treacherous journey full of danger but if I remain silent you will never know what it means to be me.
For those of you who refuse to acknowledge my existence you are no better than the ‘democratic’ dictatorship I am trying to fight. Most of you probably have no idea that my people exist but I will try to explain in detail what I have been through and am currently going through.
Imagine for a moment having a home, being proud of your history and knowing that the land you were born in is as beautiful as the heavens God created. Burma is rich in mineral resources, the land is very fertile and our coastline is breathtaking.
Then one day we were told we don’t belong here. The government insists that the Rohingya do not belong in Myanmar, referring to us as illegal Bengalis from Bangladesh. They say they have no plans to alter policies that strip us of our basic human rights and confine more than140,000 of us to crowded, squalid IDP camps.
Our homes were taken from us, the land we owned now a distant memory. We don’t have a home and we don’t have a national anthem. We are stateless, told we cannot stay but we cannot leave either. Our country has become our prison. We are not citizens here In Burma even though we were born here. In order to be citizens we have to prove generations of ancestry in Burma, but proving it is a difficult task because along with our homes and belongings the proof we had of our existence lay scattered in the ashes of our burnt homes, schools and mosques.
The Government insists on labelling us ‘Bengali’ but I am not a Bengali, I am Rohingya, this is my home and I shall hold my identity even if they try to strip it from me.
Overseas people are fighting for Gay marriages. In Burma even heterosexual marriage is considered a privilege; Rohingya cannot make nikaah (Muslim marriage)! If a man and women want to marry we must apply to the government for permission and if the application is declined and we go ahead anyway, we risk being jailed for up to seven years. If we are lucky enough to be granted permission to marry then we are subjected to forced sterilization by having to sign an agreement that we will not have more than 2 children.
Apartheid Burma refuses to let us vote, we cannot work or own land nor are we allowed the human right to an education. We are forced to live in these make shift tents. Even though we are classified as Bengalis we cannot enter neighbouring Bangladesh because we are not Bengali. The world is so big yet we have nowhere to go and even if we wanted to leave the Burmese government refuses to let us exit.
The fulfilment of my dreams, hopes and aspirations look bleak. We are the forgotten people of the world and this is my story, for I am Rohingya.