Meeting the Bradford Rohingya Community
On Monday 23rd July, I met with Salah Uddin and Nur Huda, two members of the Bradford Rohingya Community. Salah works for the community on a part-time basis, while Nur is the chairman of the BRC.
Salah, who is a young man of 22, was born in a refugee camp and lived there until he was 15 years old. I have visited refugee camps on the other, eastern side of Burma, just over the border into Thailand and having twice stayed 6 days in one of these camps Mae Ra Ma, I remember only too well how this camp seemed like an open prison. The beautiful mountains surrounding it, began to resemble prison walls... What it must be like to live in a refugee camp and go nowhere else for the first 15 years of life, we can only try to imagine.
At the age of 15, Salah came to Bradford and his life was never the same. Given the chance of a decent education and life, Salah has made the most of both these opportunities. However, he has done more than that, as he has not forgotten the misery and suffering of those he left behind. Salah has learnt English and has gained a Level 3 in Business at a local college. He is now trying to use his new skills to raise awareness of what the Rohingya have gone through and how people can help. Salah himself has lost many members of his family to the brutality and callousness of the tatmadaw, the Burmese Army.
The community are involved in a lot of work with the local community as well as holding their own meetings, AGMs and cultural activities. They have also worked well with local trade unions. As a result of the hard work done by Salah and others including the present chairman Nur, many more people in and around Bradford are now aware of the plight of the Rohingyas as they suffer what is effectively a genocide on the hot, low plains of Western Burma. I am delighted to say that the response from the people of Bradford has been very positive. From mosques to churches, from local community groups to the local council Rohingya refugees, have rightly been made to feel very welcome in Bradford.
They have also gained support from further afield and this is where you can also help out. Members of the Rohinya community are keen to have more people hear about their situation and they can provide speakers who can tell you firsthand about what has happened in Rakhine State and say what is needed now to help this terribly marginalised and desperate people.
If you would like a speaker from the Rohnigya community at your group, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can pass your details onto the Bradford Rohingya Community and out you in touch with them. I very much doubt you would regret doing so....
Peter Sagar July 2018