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Rohingya youths using WhatsApp to raise funds for refugees, protest oppression

  • Published at 04:43 pm October 31st, 2017
Rohingya youths using WhatsApp to raise funds for refugees, protest oppression
More than 60 young Rohingya men who hail from different areas of Buthidaung township in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and are currently studying at a Qawmi madrasa in Bangladesh are using social media platform WhatsApp to raise funds for the refugees in Cox’s Bazar and to protest the ongoing persecution by the army in their homeland. A group named “Kurubul Ahbab” (Close Friends) was formed last month with the goal of spreading among its members religious sermons and speeches protesting the oppression on the Rohingyas in Rakhine, Mohammad Elias (pseudonym), a member of the group, told the Dhaka Tribune recently. He said: “A total of 63 members, we are nearly the same age. All of us came to Bangladesh in 2013 and 2014 from Rakhine’s Buthidaung for educational purposes. “At the beginning, we managed to enrol ourselves at different madrasas in Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong. But now we are studying together at a renowned Qawmi madrasa in this country.” “Some of our members’ families are still over there and while families of several others have taken shelter in different refugee camps after losing everything,” Elias said, adding that his mother was currently at the Balukhali refugee camp after their family was displaced from Buthidaung’s Chindiprang area. So far, 607,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar and take refuge in Bangladesh since insurgent attacks on security outposts and an army base in Rakhine triggered an army crackdown in late August. Elias said: “On our own, we raised funds twice so far, though very little as we are all students and have no major income sources. We gathered the money from our madrasa stipends and wages from the tuitions we give. “We distributed Tk4,500 and Tk7,300 in two phases among several families at the refugee camps. We have also helped the aid programmes of Hefazat-e-Islam meant for the refugees.” He continued: “But our main aim is to spread religious sermons and speeches such as Khatme Quran, Khatme Hadith Sharif, special prayers and raise awareness amongst us against the Myanmar army who are continuously oppressing our people.” Another member of the group, Dilwar Hossain (pseudonym), of Buthidaung’s Ei Aung Sang village, came to Bangladesh with Elias. He said his family was still in Myanmar and passing their days suffering persecution at the hands of the Myanmar army and local Moghs. Another member of Kurubul Ahbab, Khairul Islam (pseudonym), of Gudampar, said that four members of his family were compelled to come to Bangladesh losing their patience after facing oppression for a long-time. “They are now at Balukhali camp, facing many problems that they never did before. My family was rich, but now we have nothing. The army and the Moghs took everything from us.” Several Kurubul Ahbab members, however, told the Dhaka Tribune that it was possible that a number of virtual groups such as their one were also created by other Rohingya students at the madrasa. They said: “Our first objective is to be educated and then help our community which is lagging behind because of illiteracy. Along with our study, we are also trying to assist those who are in trouble now.” Apart from these 63 youths, over 1,000 Rohingya youths are currently studying at the same Qawmi madrasa, most of who have come from Rakhine state to Bangladesh without proper documents.
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