a Rohingya speaks
In the jungle of Burma, the Zomi tribe lives modestly and peacefully. Thazama is a young, intrepid Zomi who loves hunting and playing games with his friend Moonpi. But the ensuing bloodbath of the 1988 Burmese revolution changes everything, making...
Habiburahmans book is a rare first-hand account of what the Rohingya have had to endure over the past few decades, and especially valuable because the events it describes took place long before most of the world had heard of them. Told in short, punchy chapters, written in an urgent present tense -- David Eimer * The Spectator * Here is the first account by a Rohingya of the decades-long oppression of his people, as well as a memoir of his own journey. Chilling and eye-opening. * i * This is the gripping, chilling inside story of the incubation of a genocide. In a corner of Asia where hatred has raged for decades, Habibs moving family history emerges as a powerful and, to my knowledge, unique historical document. His compelling storytelling relates how playground prejudice against the Muslim Rohingya of Arakan escalated into pogroms, terror, and apartheid. As he makes his arduous and dangerous escape, he writes death is always snapping at our heels. What an incredible story. There are many who, after the killing fields of Cambodia, Bosnia, or Rwanda have said Never again. It just did, in Burma, and heres how. -- Jonathan Miller, Foreign Affairs Correspondent * Channel 4 News * Written in a simple style appropriate to the childhood it records, the memoir is a devastating testimony of persecution. -- David McKechnie * The Irish Times * The book is written in simple language and tells the story without embellishment. There is no need for flourishes; it is relentless. -- Gay Alcorn * The Guardian * Habiburahman is a vivid storyteller It is a book that should be read the world over until the Rohingyas get justice An essential read. -- Liam Heylin * Irish Examiner * An astonishing story a moving read. -- Paul Ross, talkRADIO The remarkable first personal account from a Rohingya of his peoples persecution in Burma. * i * The greatest barriers to stories such as Habiburahmans being heard, though. Are invalidation and indifference. Do not be indifferent to this urgent, humane book. Read it, share it, talk about what has been happening and in so doing safeguard the humanity of Habiburahman, the Rohingya and all asylum seekers, as well as the imperilled humanity of this country. -- Maria Takolander * The Saturday Paper * [First, They Erased Our Name] tells the first-hand truth behind the global humanitarian crisis. * Business Standard * For the first time, Habibs book gives written voice to the history of fate and his people who have been left stateless in their own country. Habibs own story is an odyssey of danger, resistance, torture and courage. -- James Taylor * Surf Coast Times * Compelling. -- Robyn Douglass * <i>SA Weekend</i>, starred review * Habiburahman was a boy when Myanmar outlawed his ethnic group, the Rohingya, stripping its members of citizenship and turning them into a stateless people. His book is a rare account of growing up during the subsequent catastrophe for the Rohingya a useful addition to the literature of human rights abuses. * Kirkus Reviews *
Habiburahman, known as Habib, is a Rohingya. Born in 1979 in Burma (now Myanmar), he escaped torture, persecution, and detention in his country, fleeing first to neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia, where he faced further discrimination and violence, and then, in December 2009, to Australia, by boat. Habib spent 32 months in detention centres before being released. He now lives in Melbourne. Today, he remains stateless, unable to benefit from his full human rights. Habib founded the Australian Burmese Rohingya Organization (ABRO) to advocate for his people back in Myanmar and for his community. He is also a translator and social worker, the casual support service co-ordinator at Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees (RISE), and the secretary of the international Rohingya organisation Arakan Rohingya National Assembly (ARNA), based in the UK. In 2019, he was made a Refugee Ambassador in Australia. The hardship and the human rights violation Habib has faced have made him both a spokesperson for his people and a target for detractors of the Rohingya cause. Sophie Ansel is a French journalist, author, and director, who lived in South Asia for several years. It was during a five-month stay in Burma that she first encountered the Rohingya people and heard of their plight. She returned to the country several times, and also visited the refugee communities in neighbouring countries like Thailand and Malaysia, where she met Habib in 2006. Habib helped Sophie to better understand the persecution faced by the Rohingya, and she has been advocating for their cause since 2011. When the Myanmar government accelerated the genocide of the Rohingya in June 2012, while Habib was detained in Australia, she helped him to write his story, and the story of his people. Andrea Reece is a translator of novels, short stories, and works of non-fiction from French and Spanish.