In the countrywide protests against the coup, nobody is talking about the future of the persecuted Rohingya minority. I have been living in a refugee camp here since 2017, after the campaign of murder, rape and arson by the military in Myanmar forced more than 750,000 people from the Rohingya community to flee our homes in Rakhine State. Since the military coup in Myanmar on Feb.
1, our camp has been abuzz with conversation and even more uncertainty about the future. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who ordered the genocidal violence against us, has taken charge of the country.
Protests against the coup have spread across Myanmar, and I have been scanning news reports and social media posts about the gatherings — which have continued for days, some bringing together thousands of people — to find out whether the coup was making my countrymen rethink their indifference. I have been hoping to hear a few words about our predicament, about our future, as they speak about democracy and democratic rights.
I looked at dozens of posts and images, and eventually I found one photograph, a young man on a street in Myanmar holding a banner that read: “I Really regret abt Rohingya crisis.” I found a few reports of a very small number of people in Myanmar expressing their regrets over supporting or defending the violence against the Rohingya. But I couldn’t find any leaders from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy saying a word about the place of the Rohingya in the democratic system they are demanding.
I was born in a Rohingya family in Maungdaw, a town in Rakhine State, in 1991. Decades before I was born, the military curtailed our rights and dismissed us as culturally and racially different Bengali illegal immigrants. In 1982, it passed a law to effectively deny us citizenship. Being a Rohingya in Myanmar meant living carefully and being resigned to limited access to education, health care and other social services.