So…we are experiencing in real-time the impact of yet another 2 nation policy…this time by devotees of a Great Soul who instructed that even plants and animals are to be treated with kindness.
It is perhaps churlish to ask at such a sad moment, but when will the history of children displaced by the partitions in South Asia be written, many of whom are still rotting away in so many slums? If we the browns will not take responsibility, will the white man (Associated Press) launch an investigation and write the report? The theories of competitive grievances tend to drown out the reality of all the grief and misery.
The powerful epigraph in Jyoti Grewal’s book on the Sikh riot victims (1984) comes to mind: ‘I write so I am not written out; I write so I am not written about.’
small boat was packed with 63 people, including 14 children and 10
women. They baked in the sun and vomited from the waves. Nearly two
weeks passed, and then a boat with at least a dozen Myanmar soldiers
approached. They kicked and bludgeoned the Rohingya men with wooden
planks and iron rods, several passengers said.
tied Mohamad’s hands and lit a match, laughing as the smell of burnt
flesh wafted from his blistering arm. Senwara watched helplessly. The
beatings finally stopped after Mohamad suspected money changed hands,
and the soldiers ordered the boat to leave. The government said the Navy
denied seizing any ships during that period.
“Tell us, do you have your Allah?” one Rohingya survivor quoted the soldiers as saying. “There is no Allah!”
The ship plodded on,
but it was falling apart. A sarong stuffed in a hole could not stop
water from bubbling through, and Senwara’s sticky rice and bits of bread
When they finally floated ashore in Thailand, she had no
idea where she was.
On shore, Mohamad and
Senwara were given rice and dry fish and then put on another small boat
without an engine. Thai troops pulled them far out to sea, cut the rope
and left them to drift without food or water, survivors said. Senwara
got sick after drinking sea water and eating ground-up wood.
The next day, they spotted a fishing boat. It was from Indonesia.
Once in Indonesia, after nearly a month
at sea, Mohamad and Senwara were transferred to a filthy detention
center with about 300 people, double its capacity.
A riot soon broke out
there between the Rohingya and illegal Buddhist fishermen from Myanmar,
and eight Buddhists were beaten to death.
Senwara slept through the brawl in another area. When she awoke, her brother was gone.
a few months in jail with other Rohingya arrested from the fight,
Mohamad was released due to his age and left for neighboring Malaysia. Mohamad
found illegal work as a street sweeper, earning about $70 a month, and
now lives in a tiny hovel with about 17 other Rohingya men. He remains
tortured with guilt for leaving his little sister behind.
after the detention center riot, Senwara was registered as an asylum
seeker. She was moved to temporary U.N. housing in Medan, Indonesia, and
taken in by a Rohingya woman. She remains hurt and angry for being left
alone, and her heart aches for home.
Senwara’s parents didn’t learn the children were safe until more than eight months after their village was burned. On
that awful night, their mother, Anowar Begum, and father, Mohamad
Idris, fled with two babies into a lake. Later, they searched
frantically and found five more of their nine children. The family ended
up in a squalid camp with tens of thousands of other homeless Rohingya
near Rakhine state’s capital, Sittwe. They had given up hope on Senwara
and Mohamad by the time an unknown Rohingya called from Indonesia to say
the children were safe.
Today, 22 months after their separation,
it’s only through technology that the family, now scattered across three
countries, can remain in touch. Mohamad, in Malaysia, watches a
video clip of his sister playing soccer in Indonesia. Even as he breaks
down, he cannot look away from the little girl on the screen. Back
in Myanmar, Anowar stares at her daughter on a Skype video and sobs
into her headscarf. Senwara wipes away her own tears in Indonesia as her
father’s weathered face trembles.
“I don’t think I will ever be able to see my parents,” she says, softly. “For the rest of my life.”
The Associated Press reported the children’s story based on interviews and data from Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.