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Rohingya refugee: “The crisis is in the hands of the international community”

Posted On: 22 Aug 2019   |   Posted By: The Big Issue

Rohingya refugee: “The crisis is in the hands of the international community”

Habiburahman, known as Habib, was born in 1979 and grew up in Myanmar, his childhood surrounded by prejudice. Members of his community were killed or would disappear. Later, Habib himself was imprisoned and tortured. Eventually he escaped Myanmar, leaving his home and family behind. After being a victim of human traffickers and slave labour as he travelled through neighbouring countries, he now lives in Australia (where he spent 32 months in detention centres).
Habib explains that the origins of the tensions between the Rohingya people and other groups in Myanmar go back many decades.
“For example, we had massacres in 1942 and 1949,” he says. “In 1978 we had a big exodus into Bangladesh - more than 200,000 people fled at that time. Within a year and a half the governments signed an agreement and the people were forcefully repatriated.”
He speaks of flare ups that punctuate each decade, with 2012 being an especially bad year.
“In June 2012 when violence broke out we had martial law,” Habib explains. “Muslim...

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