You have wept for the Rohingyas. But you made me a refugee. For the last 24 years, I have been roaming from one country to another.
You have felt for the Rohingyas. You’ve cried after hearing what they go through. When no other country offered the most persecuted minority shelter, you have. I don’t see another benevolent prime minister like you today. You are perhaps being compared to Germany’s Angela Merkel.
About 40,000 Rohingyas have entered India. The government has taken the decision to throw them out. Rich Islamic countries will also not accept them. Pakistan will not take them in either. Muslim fundamentalist countries who otherwise shout in support of Rohingyas, don’t want them in their countries. A poor country like Bangladesh had to finally step in.
You have saved lakhs of Rohingyas from drowning in Naf River or killing themselves or starving to death. There have been talks about giving you the Nobel Prize. I feel proud of you. Though the Nobel Prize isn’t something that I consider the greatest. Many undeserving people have got the Prize, like Aung Saan Suu Kyi. Doing something for a prize, and doing something for the poor without thinking of a prize are two completely different things. My belief is, you didn’t stand up for the persecuted for a prize. The real prize is the love people have for you now, especially the Rohingyas, the Nobel is nothing compared to that.
You have said, “Bangladesh feeds 16 crore people. Feeding 7 lakh Rohingyas won’t be a problem. We have the capacity to feed them.” The richest countries of the world have not been able to say what you have. A poor country like Bangladesh has shown hope and humanity.
You have said, ‘We are with the refugees of Myanmar and will help them till they can return to their own country.’ – how many people are even saying this much? Some Rohingyas may be inclined to become Islamic terrorists, therefore no one is willing to trust them. But you have said if any selfish group tries to take advantage of this situation, action will be taken. You have also said to your citizens not to behave inhumanely toward the refugees. Only you have shown that Muslim nations can be humane too.
Though you have said Myanmar should take back Rohingyas, grant them citizenship, assure them safety, you perhaps know that Myanmar will not welcome back Rohingyas. They will continue to live in Bangladesh for generations to come. A large unskilled, unemployed population will resort to theft, alcohol or terror. This has happened before, and will happen again.
You have said in 1975, you’ve had to stay as a refugee in Europe, which is why you can empathise with them.
But what I don’t get is why you can’t and don’t want to understand my pain. You have made me a refugee. For the last 24 years, I have been roaming from one country to another. Living, but not living in my own country. Because you will not let me enter my own country. You won’t lift the ban on even my book. I want to give the power of attorney to my own sister and you are not letting the Bangladesh Embassy officials sign it. How much more can one person be censored, humiliated, and rendered powerless in one life time?
You are crying for others’ lives, while destroying one yourself. The one who is kind, is kind to all. I have not killed or harmed anyone. Where did you keep aside your humanity when you closed the door of my own country on my face. If you believe in the freedom of speech of only some people and not of others, then you do not believe in freedom of speech. Then you don’t believe in democracy.
You protested Rajib Haider’s murder till you came to know he was an atheist. One after another, progressive thinking youths are being murdered in the country. You have not mourned when atheist bloggers have been murdered. You have not sought justice for them. You weep for Muslims coming back from foreign lands but not for the dead progressive youths of your own country. You don’t perform the role of a prime minister if you don’t speak out against these brutal killings.
Dear Prime Minister, you constantly forget that you are the prime minister of both the religious and the non-religious. Rich, poor, men, women, Hindu, Muslim, religious, non-religious, you have the same duty to all and everyone should be equal before you. All expect the same kindness from you. If not, then your humanity is false, as are your tears.
Some say you are giving shelter to Rohingyas for votes. You’ll get the Muslim vote. If the Rohingyas were Hindus or Buddhists, would you give them shelter? Perhaps not. Hindus in Bangladesh are being persecuted, evicted, their homes are being burnt – have you been standing by their side? Or cried for them? You are not letting me enter my own country to get the majority vote, neither are you showing compassion for the minority, and not even acknowledging the death of atheists. You just want to win. You just want to rule. How can we call a cunning and selfish person free or humane?
The One you made a refugee for two decades.
Taslima Nasreen is a celebrated author and commentator.
(Translated from Bengali by Neera Majumdar)