Survivor: a book review

Posted on: December 20, 2023 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

Survivor: a book review Getting my hands on Survivor This past August I was able to secure several copies of Ziaur Rahman’s stunning memoir Survivor: My Life as A Rohingya Refugee. I had gotten to know Ziaur two years ago through numerous online conversations and was honored to be among the many who assisted him in the process of getting his story published. Holding the book in my hands for the first time felt like a dream coming true. As I began my fall semester, I shared with my sociology classes details of my summer travel to Bangladesh and what I had learned about the Rohingya. My most intense learning took place by meeting with many Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar in southern Bangladesh, not far from the Myanmar border. Though most of the Rohingya diaspora is located in Cox’s Bazar, those fleeing the genocidal Myanmar military now live all…

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An Appeal to United States to take “Responsibility to Protect”(R2P) Rohingya for a Permanent Solution 

Posted on: December 31, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

Introductory context I have been receiving multiple emails per day for the last several months from Mohammed Husson Ali, a 71 year old Rohingya man now living in the United States. Daily, Mohammad scours Internet for any news relevant to his people and, in a soulful act of witnessing, he forwards these news items to those who he knows will be interested. He added me to his mailing list -now 170 people long- after reading an article I had written about the plight of the Rohingya. Born in Myo Thu Gyi village, Maungdaw Town, Arakan, Burma, he earned several degrees and worked in various capacities including with the UNHCR and the World Food Programme. Fleeing violence in Burma, his family is part of the Rohingya diaspora. He has 3 sons, 2 daughters, 3 grandsons and 2 granddaughters now living in Kutupalong refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. His single son who…

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Book of poems published by genocide survivor

Posted on: September 6, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

The Painful Life of Rohingya by Roshidullah Kyaw Naing published by Evincepub Publishing   A must read It has been my honor to write about and in some cases to partner with many Rohingya poets over the last few years, and I have written many posts about these poets. I invite you to click here to read about some amazing young Rohingya women and men who have chosen writing poetry as one way of responding to the agonies of being a genocide victim. Early this summer I was contacted by Rohingya poet Roshidullah Kyaw Naing. After reading -and re-reading many times- his collection of poems I agreed to write a foreword for his book. His dream of having this book of poems is now, fantastically, a reality.  I encourage anyone who wants to learn about the struggle of the Rohingya people to order this book now on Amazon or directly from the…

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Review of Rohingyatographer Magazine, Issue #1/Summer 2022

Posted on: May 23, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

Quick summary
In a hurry? Here’s the executive summary. If you are at all interested in the lives of Rohingya people living in the world’s largest refugee camp from an inside perspective get a copy of Rohingyatographer Magazine NOW.

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Humanitarian response to the March 22nd fire in Cox’s Bazar refugee camp

Posted on: March 23, 2021 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry, Refugee humanitarians

This post updated 9:00AM Wednesday EST. Humanitarian refugees gut punched by fire In the last couple years I have been honored to work with many Rohingya refugees. Countless interviews, text chats, and discussions have led to writing a series of blog posts, having one (Pan Thar) as a guest in my sociology class, and even co-authoring a poem with another (Ro Anamal Hasan). We have spent the last year trading stories and fears about the Covid-19 pandemic. These (mostly) young women and men have inspired me and challenged my understanding of what it means to witness. I heard about the fire by reading their many feverish updates on Facebook and Twitter; my heart sank. As a 12 year old I was awoken by my father in the middle of the night, our apartment aflame. We made it out, but the trauma of that night lives with me. Even with that…

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A discussion with Ziaur Rahman, Rohingya activist and humanitarian

Posted on: March 6, 2021 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry, Refugee humanitarians

A discussion with Ziaur Rahman, Rohingya activist and humanitarian                 Humanitarian action As defined by Maxwell and Gelsdorf1 humanitarian action, broadly speaking, is the protection of life and dignity. Inherently multifaceted, humanitarian action includes eight overlapping realms including security, stabilization, development, sustainability, governance, and rights. Where humanitarian action overlaps with both governance and rights lies humanitarian advocacy. They argue, “Humanitarian action is is always situated in a context of global agendas, and it is often unclear where humanitarian action ends and some other kind of action begins–whether this action is more explicitly political, developmental, economic, or human rights oriented. This question also tugs at the very meaning of ‘humanitarian’- and is by no means resolved.”  (p.7) I cannot agree more, and am constantly challenged by my own shifting views on the meaning of humanitarianism. I’ll readily admit to erring on the side of conflating…

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Questions about the relocation of Rohingya refugees to Bhashan Char Island

Posted on: December 6, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry, Refugee humanitarians

  See 29 December 2020 update on this post here.   “We aren’t born to float and drown/Nor to be refugees …” -Ro Anamul Hasan, from his poem The Dead Island Humanitarian questions about the relocation of Rohingya to Bhashan Char Island   In their own words This report by Amnesty International, LET US SPEAK FOR OUR RIGHTS: HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION OF ROHINGYA REFUGEES IN BANGLADESH provides an excellent and up to date overview of the plight facing the Rohingya. In eight sections using first person accounts from Rohingya, both women and men tell detailed and compelling stories. The section titled “This is worse than prison” gives the accounts of Rohingya who were brought to Bhashan Char in May, 2020 having been turned away by Malaysian authorities after a traumatic months long sea journey. The title of this section (“This is worse than prison”) summarizes the feelings of those already on…

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Bringing two worlds together

Posted on: October 27, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry, Refugee humanitarians

Update 11-26-20 Pan Thar’s “Life tale of a Rohingyan Soul” was recently featured on Litlight.   “I communicate and work with many Rohingya poets and poetesses who are writing poetry for various platforms. Our writing makes us not only feel glad but also to be proud of our activism for our community. Our pens are our guns. Our words are our bullets. Our ink is our activism.” -Pan Thar, Rohingya poet Bringing two worlds together Par Thar, Rohingya poet In the past 18 months I have been in contact with many young Rohingya men and women now living in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.  Most are victims of genocidal persecution from the Myanmar government and military, fleeing along with over 700,000 other Rohingya to Bangladesh in August of 2017. I have written many posts about what I have called ‘refugee humanitarians‘ and have kept up with…

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Views on the COVID-19 pandemic from the majority world

Posted on: May 18, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry, Refugee humanitarians

Updated 22 May 2020 “Until we build a world for all of us, it’s almost like humanitarian efforts are just putting a band-aid over life-threatening wounds.” -Michael Koppinger Views on the COVID-19 pandemic from the majority world The majority world First, a comment on naming. It is not the “Third World” or the “developing world” or even, as I have used in the past, the “Global South.”  It is the majority world, the part of the world that has the most people. This term “…defines the community in terms of what it is, rather than what it lacks”, and are were encouraged to use it by the person believed to be the creator of the term, Bangladeshi photojournalist and activist Shahidul Alam. Here in the minority word With the specter of what happened just over 100 years ago with the Spanish flu, massive and deadly second and third waves, government leaders in…

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Humanitarian voices in Sittwe, Myanmar

Posted on: February 1, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces", Refugee humanitarians

“What do we want?  Justice. Equality. Peace and freedom.” –Kyaw Kyaw, Rebel Riot     Humanitarian voices in Sittwe I recently talked with a humanitarian working in Myanmar, and we chatted about some recent events in the local poetry and music scenes that give reason for cautious hope. He forwarded a link to some graphic, compelling, and highly political videos recently produced by Turning Tables Myanmar. From their web page: Turning Tables Myanmar works to empower marginalized youth by providing the means to process and express their hopes, dreams and challenges, through the Creative Arts of music and film. We strive to address the root causes of inequality and provide support to a wide range of challenges in Myanmar from gender-based violence, tribalism, extremist groups, youth in urban slums and the communities in which they reside. The five videos, under the umbrella title “Transition This”, are all extraordinarily well done and…

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