Rohingya A Place to Call Home graphic

Habibullah is a 46-year old Rohingya. He lives with his family in a wooden house in Aung Minglar, a ghetto in Sittwe, Myanmar where thousands of Rohingya are confined. As discussed in prior posts, Aung Minglar is separated from the rest of Sittwe. Where the rest of the city has basic electricity and day-to-day living essentials, Aung Minglar is isolated from the rest of the city by barbed wire barricades and guarded by armed security forces. Habibullah has described the place “like a prison without walls. Instead of walls, there are police checkpoints.” Even here, however, Habibullah is considered stateless.

In addition to suffering in inhumane conditions with his family, Habibullah also suffers from diabetes. Unfortunately, the Myanmar government does not grant the Rohingya the right to get treated at hospitals in Sittwe. As a result, Habibullah has to be transported in an armed escort police track to a camp in Depaing that has a makeshift government medical clinic.  On his way back, a truck picks him up that is often filled with other Rohingya who leave Aung Mingalar to get food, bamboo and other supplies brought from the camp. Because Aung Mingalar does not have any living essentials, the Rohingya often have to leave their city through intimidating means of transport to get these items.

Before the violence of 2012, Habibullah used to sell dried fish over the border to Bangladesh. However, in 2012 he lost his business as all of his fish rotted in a warehouse. His brother used to run a spice shop in a local bazaar, but the police confiscated in 2012. In 2012, all of the Rohingya stalls and shops in the bazaar were closed or seized. Habibullah, his brother, and thousands of other Rohingya have been unemployed since.

The Rohingya are still suffering atrocities. Recently, Aung San Suu Kyi and Angelina Jolie, who is a special envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, sat down with female factory workers in Myanmar to learn more about their working conditions. Because of recent flooding in the Rakhine State that worsened the conditions for the Rohingya living there, the two did not visit there. The flooding has caused damaged to camps housing over 100,000 Rohingya in the Rakhine state. I hope that Suu Kyi can make a greater effort to help the Rohingya. I hope that Suu Kyi can stand up for human rights and fight for and solve the Rohingya crisis. I hope that soon the plight of the Rohingya will end, and that they will have a place they can finally call home.