Oh Rohingyas of Tenghkhali, strive for unity or you will have to answer on the day of judgement
The melodious tune flows from a 16 year old boy in a school at Tenghkhali refugee camp of Bangladesh, as his classmates hum softly along with him, many of them struggling to hold back their tears. It is a song born out of the desperation of the young generation who are watching with depression and disbelief, as disunity among the Rohingya nation threatens to make redundant any steps they take for the freedom of this nation. Many believe it is the disunity among the Rohingyas that has enabled the Buddhist nationalist movement to virtually wipe them out in the land they had always known as their home.
It is easy to see why. From the top echelons of the Rohingya civil rights movement, mostly based in exile, to the grass roots of the refugee camps, Rohingyas have a hard time getting along with each other. The phenomenon has always rendered Rohingya political movements useless. Many say it is heartbreaking to see that in the darkest hours of Rohingya history, most of the Rohingya spend more time complaining about each other rather than the oppressors who had killed their brothers, and raped their sisters.
Ironically Rohingyas did manage some semblance of unity, from October 2016 to September 2017, The man who forged this unity was no other than Ata Ullah, the military chief of ARSA. But ARSA’s popularity fell as quickly as it rose. The resistance movement is now resembling more of a ruthless gang relying on fear rather than mass popularity. ARSA’s popularity took a nosedive when they promised falsely to the Rohingya masses about their ability to wage a guerrilla war against the oppressors, whereas it turned out the movement had neither the logistical or organisational capability to take on the regime and had blatantly lied to the masses. ARSA’s ill designed struggle destroyed the existence of the Muslim population in the frontier areas, with the group and their supporters failing to put up even minimal resistance.
ARSA today breeds disunity rather than the almost universal popularity it enjoyed, the time when the Rohingya nation suffered its greatest catastrophe ever.
But it is not just ARSA, Rohngyas from all corners of the camp are failing time and again to unite for a common purpose in a struggle against a common oppressor. As continuous endevours fail to unite the beleaguered commuity in their darkest hour, many are dreading that the heinous crimes committed against them will go unpunished. It is truly a moment of despair.
Yet this desperation can also be a cause for optimism. There is no denying that Rohingyas have come to realise that disunity is killing them. They might not be able to forge it at this moment, but at least the realisation has come strongly. This is a golden opportunity for educated and the elderly to forge a nation which is literally crying out for unity.
Incidentally, Tenghkhali camp is only a year old, and it is significant that the name of the camp is included in this Rohingya song. It means a new spirit is being bred in the refugee camps of Bangladesh, where Rohingyas live in close proximity to each other. The mountains and rivers that separated them are no longer there, geographically speaking. But if history is an indicator, the Rohingyas have failed to do so in the past; if they fail at their darkest hour, the struggle for freedom and justice is over.