It wasn’t a surprise to hear “Alhamdulillah” or “Praise God” when I spoke to many of the settled Rohingyas today. They do know about the plight of the boat people and feel for them. At the same time, they feel thankful they are in comparatively safe harbour.
On land, all is not as rosy as the smile, as I was to find out. Myanmar’s ethnic groupings are as complex as the nation’s history. Because of persecution, discrimination and inter-communal violence, many Rohingyas won’t admit readily they are one, even here.
When me the stranger asked; many prefer to identify themselves as a Muslim from Myanmar. That is a reasonable reply, considering there are many other Muslim groups in Myanmar, outside the Arakan State.
Picture is of Abdul Rahman, a Rohingya vegetable seller. Wearing the traditional Burmese longyi, he told me I won’t be able to tell ethnicity with certainty, just by looks alone .
According to him, the best way is to make them talk and then discern the dialect. So, that’s how this man was appointed as my personal Rohingya spotter for this part of the neighbourhood.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1250, f4, 1/200 sec.