FILE PHOTO: A banyan tree is seen at Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, November 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain/File Photo

By Ro Yassin Abdumonab, ACT For Refugees

To: Everyone living with freedom

From: A Rohingya with a dream of returning home

I still remember my days at school, being forced to sit in the back row. On a sunny beautiful day, I graduated from university, becoming first in line with the highest mark, but with a degree irrelevant to my dreams. I always wanted to be a poet and a philanthropist, but what to study was not for me to choose. I urged for high-quality education, but I was denied my future.

I had a home filled with happiness, a piece of land, herds with milk, and trees in summer yielded shade. I had a house in a village with beautiful sceneries and shining faces with sweet smiles. I love my homeland, Myanmar, but I was forced to leave it. They came with loaded weapons to kill us all. Some were throttled to death, some were chopped into pieces, and others were thrown into the fire. All they wanted were to eradicate our existence from this beautiful world.

I ran from village to village, crawled among corpses. The river I crossed became an ocean, the days I wandered on my bare feet to reach safety is still a nightmare. But at last, I can breathe and sleep without fear of bullets. There are more than a million of us in Cox’s Bazar, hosting the world´s largest refugee camp for Rohingya. At least 15,000 are under quarantine, but how can social distancing be practised when at least seven persons are cramped in a shelter the size of 10 square meters? How can we prevent infections when not even being allowed access to the information? Coronavirus cases are climbing, and the virus could race through the camps and kill us all.

But let there be no doubt that it’s not the virus that wipes out our lives – it is the hatred that forced us on our knees, the discrimination that deprived us of our opportunities, the oppression that separated us from our land. The continuous persecution of Rohingya and minorities in Myanmar keeps denying us our right to life. It is called racism. Racism kills.

My dreams are buried in a corner of my heart, but there is still a flicker of hope. I can enlighten the world with my words; I can light the way for those who became afraid of their own shadow.

And to brighten my future, I need you to hear my voice.

I will keep speaking up until the world hears our plea.

I will keep fighting for our freedom until my very last breath.

Ro Yassin Abdumonab

Rohingya Refugee Camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.