By Rohingya Correspondent
It was in the midnight hour, my phone rang while I was struggling to fall into asleep with a heavy heart for my people’s horrible life in- and outside Myanmar. I immediately look up at the phone number, which is not in my contact, and I instantly saw that the caller is from Saudi Arabia. I picked up the phone, and I was hearing a sobbing tone of voice. I could feel the distress the brother has been going through from his tone. “Assawlamu Alikum,” he greeted me. I replied, “Peace is upon you too.” And I asked, “How can I help you and where are you calling from?” He said, “I am a Rohingya, calling from Saudi prison. I am calling because I want to appeal you, the Rohingya rights activists around the world to help us so that we can be released from the prison.”
This Rohingya youth has been in the Prison for almost two years. He escaped Myanmar’s war on Rohingya in 2012, and he eventually arrived in Saudi Arabia. After a few minutes conversation, asking the entire situation inside the prison, I try to counsel and relieve his pain, may be for temporary. I told him that I will at least try my best so that your story is reached to the world, the Rohingya leaders and activists. I requested him to send me a voice clip via WhatsApp so that Rohingya activists and leaders can listen to his voice. Here is the link and translate of his voice:
“May peace be upon you. How are you? I am fine, thanks God. I am one of your fellow Rohingya brothers. I appeal all Rohingya activists and leaders. I am glad to hear and see that you are working for our persecuted Rohingya. Because of your hard working, we can see some persecutions have been reduced. That is why I pray to God for you, and I thank to God. I am a Rohingya from Saudi prison and I want to make a request to you all. As you all know, due to Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing in 2012, many of Rohingya have to leave the native land for various countries. Some of the Rohingya have arrived in Saudi Arabia. As we don’t have resident permit, we got arrested, and finally landed in the prison. As a consequence, we are unable to support our family, who were left behind. In the prison, where I am now, there are almost 800 Rohingya people. Saudi authority is saying us to go back where we come from. People have been crying day in and day out. We strongly believe that you, Rohingya leaders and rights activists, could appeal to Saudi Home Ministry for our release, and we can stay temporarily as long as our country of origin is safe for our lives. Therefore, for the sake of our family and our lives, we appeal to you to work for our release from the prison. We have a big hope that we will be released. Thank you so much.”
Now the question we, as Rohingya rights activists and leaders, have to ask to ourselves is that do we have a collective responsibility to work for the release of those brothers living in distress in Saudi prison for years? If yes, why are we waiting for?