A Rohingya woman grieves after a fire gutted her family's shelter, Rakhine state, May 2016

The plight of the Rohingya: an open letter to Malcolm Turnbull

Imran Mohammad is a 23-year-old stateless Rohingya from Myanmar currently imprisoned on Manus Island. Here, together with other Rohingya people trapped on Manus, he writes an open letter to the Australian Government about the plight of the Rohingya.

The whole world is watching as tens of thousands of Rohingya people flee for their lives, escaping horrific violence and persecution. Since August, Myanmar soldiers have been indiscriminately killing Rohingya men, women, children and elderly people living in Arakan State, in the western part of Myanmar.

It is the experience of innocent Rohingya people to be oppressed and persecuted in their own home country. As such a boundless number have fled or become homeless and internally displaced.

Open letter to the Australian Government

To the Prime Minister of Australia,

5 Sept 2017

We, the Rohingyans being held on Manus Island, are writing this to bring to your attention to the thousands of Rohingyans who have been slaughtered, burnt, decapitated, shot or buried alive in our home state of Arakan in Myanmar. Most of the villages are completely burnt and demolished and hundreds of innocent Rohingyan families are being displaced and are on the move. We don’t believe that they can continue for long as they have no food to eat, no water to drink and nowhere to go and they are receiving no help whatsoever.

They are hiding in the mountains trying to save their lives. Of those lucky enough to escape the Myanmar Army and their torture, rape and murder, many men, women and babies have died in the Naf river while trying to cross the border to Bangladesh. The lives of our relatives are in imminent danger because of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

We have been held here [Manus Island] for more than four years now, while our fathers, mothers, siblings, wives and children are dying at home. We are waking up to pictures and videos of the dead and dying every single day, the numbers of whom are increasing significantly. They are human beings and deserve to live in peace and safety and are in urgent need of our help.

We are imploring you to give us a chance to be resettled as soon as possible in a safe country where we can heal and rebuild our lives. We wish to help in saving our people and give our hands to other people in need. We are strongly determined to contribute and help to create a world which is a better place, for all the citizens of this earth.

The cave that we have been stuck in for over four years is beyond an ordinary person’s comprehension because their minds have never come across of the type of sufferings that we face on a daily basis on Manus Island. Each man’s story will draw a picture that you never thought you would see in your lifetime. We have been pushed into the depths of despair every single day and now we have reached the saturation point after more than four years of incarceration in this appallingly isolated setting.

We are stuck in Australia’s political limbo and it literally means we can’t do anything and can’t go anywhere. Despite seeking help and begging for safety from all the countries who are are part of the UNHCR 1951 Refugee Convention, and from all the humanitarian organisations, all they have said is they can’t do anything unless we are out of Australia’s grasp. We are still in Australia’s control. It is foolish to say that we are Papua New Guinea’s responsibility now as the detention centre is unconstitutional in this country and it has been proven again and again that it is Australia that is pulling the puppet strings. The system is full of corruption, greed and pure evil.

We have done everything with great respect that we have been instructed to do. Now the department of Homeland security from the US are currently on the island and conducting interviews. We don’t know if we will ever be resettled in the US but we are attending the interviews if we are called.

We have had more than enough of the psychological torture over the last four years and it has damaged every single one of us in a variety of ways. We are deteriorating physically even more now.

It has been more than four years now that we have been the victims of a grievous injustice and stuck in this isolation. We have been deprived of our basic human rights for years now. When will it be enough for the Australian government to give us the freedom which every human deserves on this earth?

Please let us taste our freedom, and allow us to live in safety and peace so that we can be the voice of voiceless people.

Signed, the Rohingya refugees on Manus Island