A message from Nurul Islam, Chairman of the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) on the occasion of the Rohingya National Day
Nurul Islam Rohingya Today
Rohingya refugees walk from Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

A message from Nurul Islam, Chairman of the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) on the occasion of the Rohingya National Day

“Bismillah, ar-Rahman, ar-Rahim”

“In The Name of Allah, The most Beneficent, the Most Merciful” 

Dear Rohingya brothers and sisters, 

Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa barkatuh!

3rdJanuary is the Rohingya National Day, a very important day for our people. It is indeed a great privilege and honour for me to send a message of congratulations to all Rohingya brothers and sisters, at home and abroad, on this auspicious occasion.

Dear brothers and sisters, 

We are a people with a long glorious history in Arakan. Our forefathers ruled Arakan and defended its territorial integrity with great sacrifice side by side with Buddhist Rakhine community. Our people had given remarkable contributions towards its advancement in all fields with their sublime civilization. Yet, today we are not tolerated in the country for our religion, ethnicity and South Asian appearance in contrast to Southeast Asian of dominant Bamar.

We are proud of having resemblance with the people of Bengal or the ancient inhabitants of Arakan. We are nevertheless Rohingya by history, by culture and by civilization; and we are a people indigenous to Arakan, therefore, to Burma/Myanmar.  

Dear brothers and sisters,

We have been oppressed and persecuted beyond all measures. Particularly from 1962 military takeover, our people have faced continuous process of de-legitimization, institutionalized persecution and worsening abuses culminating in genocide. 

In 2017, the world was appalled by the images of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children fleeing genocide in Burma/Myanmar. We saw houses and villages were burned to the ground, women gangraped and babies thrown into the flame. UN Fact-Finding Mission have now called this atrocities “genocide”. 

Today, some 1.2 million Rohingya people are stranded in Bangladesh, which has generously welcomed them. We Rohingya are victims. We are survivors. Above all, we are innocent people who want to return to our homeland in safety, in dignity, and with justice. Sadly, we have seen no evidence that the Myanmar government is committed to achieving this goal. It has no intention of creating the conditions for a sustainable return, because they have already achieved their goal: eliminating the Rohingya people from Arakan

Dear brothers and sisters,

We have nothing to lose what we have lost already. We lost everything –human dignity, human rights and freedoms. Our villages have been bulldozed to erase any signs of former lives. Our lands have been declared state ownerships and are being allocated to establish increasing Buddhist settler villages and to transform into so-called economic zones. Everything is taken away. We have no opportunity to earn daily bread, even the opportunity to survive. Nowhere our people are safe: in the bazars, on the farmland, in the workplace, on the roads, going to mosques and even our children in the schools. They do not look upon us as people. They tend to regard us as a separate breed.

About 80% of our population were expelled to lead a life of humiliation as refugees and baggers in alien lands. Those who are still at home are confined to ghettos and apartheid-like concentration camps without education, healthcare, enough food and necessities for life. For nearly 7 years from 2012 the IDPs in Sittwe and other southern towns are not allowed to return to their original places to rebuild their lives. 

Dear brothers and sisters,

We are now in the abyss of our history. Rohingya people whether in the homeland or in their places of refuge are one national unit. We must rise up from this horrible situation. We need to exert on a long struggle for our people. National unity is indispensable for our steady victory. Here unity of mind, unity of purpose and unity of dedication is crucial. But we have nothing to do with the traitors or conspirators. They are not part of us. They are snakes in the grass. We need to guard hidden or unsuspected danger or difficulties.

It is quite unimportant that we ourselves live, it is important that our people shall live. The sacrifice that is demanded of us is not greater than the sacrifice many generations have made. 

We must not abandon all hope. The setback we have faced one after another is not permanent. Remember we do not stand alone. We are not isolated. The freedom loving and justice upholding people of the world are with us.  

Dear brothers and sisters,

We want our rights and freedom. Above all we want equal political rights, because without them we will be disabled permanently. We desire nothing else than peace. We want to live peacefully and honorably in Arakan as equals. We cherish the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all peoples live together in harmony and with equal opportunity. The perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing must be brought to justice. We want to solve our crisis peacefully before our patience is at an end.

The ball is in the court of Burma/Myanmar government. The decision lies in their hand: Give to the Rohingya people their rights and freedom or we will go to fetch them for ourselves

Thank you once again for your precious time. 

Rohingya Zindabad

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