Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Rohingya No More

Cartoon by @CarlosLatuff

I woke up this morning all cosy in bed
And a poem in my head
About another world
Behind my closed door
Where they got no cosy beds to sleep in
All they got is the floor
And mud, mud, mud,
Rising in the flood
No blanket to cover their children
If their children are still alive
Because they might not be
Some have been chopped up before their eyes

Sorry this poem should have come with a warning
It's easy to understand
I got a simple vocabulary
So this can be read in every land
But don't be fooled into thinking
I'm writing something nice
This poem ain't nice at all
This is a nightmare
It is called life

Life on Earth
This is what it's come to
But if you live in the West
I'm sorry you don't have a clue
So you might find my poem gives you a start
I got a lot to tell you so I'll begin with just one part
                                                                                                  
I'll start with the Rohingya
Because they are on my mind
This morning
Without warning
This nightmare woke up with me
but I knew it was a reality

Whilst I was fast asleep
More people died in that mud knee deep
Maybe they just starved to death
Or maybe they died of disease
It could have been an untreated injury
Or a new slaughter where the parents cried out Please!
Please don't hurt my baby, he's  my only son!
And my daughter she's the light of my life.
Oh my God what have you done!
How did humanity get to stoop so low?
Where are the hearts God gave us?
Does anybody know?
Can you even feel your heart behind your drunken stupor?
Have the tranquilizers numbed all your pain? Are the holidays all you live for?

Someone said I should write a poem
Sorry I write like a kid
But like I said this rhyme comes with a warning
Might not be one for the bed time story

The Rohingya
They live in Burma
Which was renamed to Myanmar
By the military Junta
I call it Burma in my Twitter stream
Because it uses less characters
And that's what matters most to me

The Rohingya were the forgotten people
No human rights and no voice
But you won't know that if your media of choice
is CNN or Sky News or BBC
But now we got the Internet it's easier to see
What lies behind the filter bubble
If you have the heart to stomach the trouble

Lived in the Arakan for centuries
A fact denied by Ne Win dictator from the military
he stole their right to a nationality
in 1982. They are officially
The most persecuted minority
In the World
Said the United Nations
When it suited them
Before Aung San Suu Kyi
And democracy
The UN said that, so quote that, it's official
Unlike the thousands of unverified deaths
Which can't possibly exist
They simple are not real
Because Thein Sein the new era president
Says there's only seventy eight deaths and
he's our document.
He's about democracy you see
Never mind his connection to the military.

Persecuted for years
No human rights just fears
More than 30 years of persecution
Less than one human right of 30 in a resolution
Forced to work as slaves on their own land
Can you imagine that?
And do you even give a dam?
Can't travel from place to place without a permit
Better for them to live like a hermit

They lost their right to marry
and have children as you wish
But the sea was their friend
And at least they could fish
But even fish started dying
Due to underwater mining
And the sea become their enemy
swallowing them up as they tried to flee
The horrors that were on the land
But maybe sea remained their best friend
Since it was always waiting patiently
To put an end to their misery.

Thank God for the sea that fed them
and sustained their lives for a while
And for the sea that took those lives away
when the lives could no longer smile.

Did you hear the man crying out for mercy?
'When will people like you bring us justice and peace?'
His wife begged for poison to end the misery.
But for many the pain did not cease.

It's not the first time the government tried to wipe them out
They tried a few times before you might have heard a shout
from a few
in 1992
just a quarter million fled their land
to Bangladesh who they thought was their friend
But over the border there was no warm welcome
Just a lot more mud
and some sticks they call shelter
The man behind that job I read was Than Shwe
But he didn't finish the job off so they are trying again today.
Should have taken him to the ICC
For war crimes years ago
Then these people wouldn't have to flee
Like they are trying now but with nowhere to go.

This minority gonna get the flick
Sorry but the land needs clearing real quick
Than Shwe is running out of time
For the Shwe Gas Pipeline.
Starting in Arakan
Crossing over to the people of Kachin
I've not even started talking about that
Another group of people about to get the sack
Gotta get that oil and gas pumping up to China
Like blood through our veins keeps us living finer
It's a win win situation
Even Ban Ki told us so
Seems he forgot about the Rohingya though.

It always starts with a rape you see
Stir up the tension between the ethnicity
But when leaflets are distributed across the nation
Encouraging the hate and extermination
You know this thing didn't just happen naturally
Police stand watching even though they can see
The houses burning and the knives cutting through
Innocent bodies, flesh, sinew
It's not a sight I'd like to see
But how would I feel if it was happening to me?
How would I like to see my house burnt to the ground?
How would I like to listen to the sound?
But don't talk about the children, please not the children
After they were hit
50 to 60 of them thrown in a pit
Buried alive that's what he said
The old man survivor when he arrived half dead
In the middle of the night
Did  my ears hear me right?
Surely not, play it again,
Tell me he's lying coz I can't take such pain.

Genocide
It's a dirty word
Concentration camps
How absurd
These are emotive words you know
We don't want to hear them better you go
We'll label you as a mad
Then we can all ignore the bad
Go talk to Amnesty
They are very good you'll see
Tell them all about it
Then you can sleep at night coz u done your bit

Genocide: worse than war
The best documentary I watched by far
Find it on YouTube if you care
After watching don't forget to share
Mass murder is a political act
Could be prevented if you care about that
Which country will put national interest aside
And argue first for humanity with pride.

It is a desperate situation
This evil manifestation
Everyone in Burma it seems
Don't see the Rohingya as human beings
Why is it because you don't look like their look?
Skin too dark? Reading a different book?
Or are you just superior
to hold these people so inferior?
Its not them acting like animals it's you
when you surround their houses
with knives to stick through
the walls what do you think
is that human behaviour?
Have you thought about your soul
and who is going to save you?

So what do we do? just leave them there?
That is their land, their right.
Sitting ducks waiting patiently.
This is their plight.
They been denied so much already
Surely they got the right to remain
On their land where they can die in vain
And politicians can talk for sure
After a while Rohingya no more.



by Jamila Hanan



Find out more here: Tears of the Rohingya

Monday, 13 August 2012

Tears of the Rohingya

There's something about crying that reaches across borders and appeals to humanity. There are many different types of cries, but the cry of a completely broken soul is the most piercing of all.

The first cry I heard from the Rohingya was from this boy as he fled his burning home. Maybe it is because I am a mother that his cry tore my soul apart?


Then there were these girls on a boat, as they tried to seek shelter. Days at sea in the rain, hungry, tired, traumatised, unsure of their fate.


Then there were these 140 men and boys pleading to be let in to Bangladesh but turned back to sea with a bottle of water.


There's a girl in this video that cries as she tells how all of her relatives were killed.



My friend interviewed a Rohingyan man living in the crisis area in Myanmar. I listened to the recorded interview. He was sobbing as he pleaded for help 'please try to save our lives, please, try to save our lives'. Here you can read some more of what he said.

Here a man arriving at a refugee camp in Bangladesh (one of the lucky few that made it through) cries as he recalls how 50 to 60 children were buried alive in a mass grave.



This lady asks where is the love in the world?



And then there was this man, pleading for help to the Turkish foreign minister, with the lovely first lady of Turkey, who felt their pain and responded in the only way that a person with humanity should.


So what is it that is making even grown men cry? 
Human Rights Watch summarises what has been happening here.


You can read the full Human Rights Watch report here and if you want to know a bit about the history that led up to this then read their last report from 2009.

This situation falls nothing short of genocide. Please contact your members of parliament and ask them to call for urgent action to end this ethnic cleansing before it is too late.

Please also share the following video to Twitter and Facebook and visit WeAreHelp.org to find out what else you can do.



If you want to learn more you can read some of my research notes here.