The first thing Maung Abdul Khan does every morning is text his parents: “Are you still alive?” Only when they respond with a “yes” does the 29-year-old Rohingya Muslim refugee, who lives in Vikaspuri, go about his day. On Tuesday afternoon at the Press Club of India, Khan shared disturbing stories that his family members narrate to him over the phone from a village in Rakhine State. He was speaking at a press conference held by the Rohingya Human Rights Initiative (ROHRIngya).
The group has been founded by 29-year-old Sabber, a Rohingya Muslim living in Delhi since 2005. “We are an indigenous, peaceful community. We request the international community to protect us. We cannot contact our families daily; they want us to save them but we are helpless,” said Sabber, fighting back tears. “Whether it’s Rohingya Muslims who are being killed or Hindus… it’s a crime against humanity and we condemn it.”
Talking about Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Khan — who came to India in 2013 — said, “We expected a lot from her… she’s a Nobel laureate but she was silent. The televised speech she gave was a lie. We know the reality… we have family there.”
Sabber told The Indian Express, “I protested in Delhi when she was under house arrest in 2008. We thought she would help us, but her silence hurts.”
A two-minute video — which has testimonies of young Rohingya Muslim girls alleging rape in Rakhine — was also screened at the conference. Expressing concern over the “recent killings of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State”, the two urged “the UN, Amnesty International and India to protect Rohingya Muslims through political will and humanitarian aid”.
Sabber said, “We are grateful to India, we feel safe here. We can’t go back to Myanmar…we are not terrorists, we hope the Indian government will understand that.”