Life in South Korea as an émigré
This article is the personal account of the author Supan Chakma.
Since I was old enough to remember, my mother has always said to me these three words: faith, confidence and judgment.
Faith: Things that will resolve themselves.
Confidence: In one’s own your ability.
Judgment: Trust in one’s self and the system.
These three strong words have led me through the easiest and most difficult decisions in my life almost with ease.
My name is Chakma. I was born on 1st October, 1992 at , located at , Bangladesh. Few months after my birth, my family had to escape and take shelter to neighboring state of Tripura, India as refugees due to an unfortunate incident that happened in the year 1993. On a newer world, my family had a difficult means of survival in a whole new other country where we were often teased and called as illegal immigrant and spent five years in refugee camp where we were struggling in building a new life.
Looking back at those days, I can still imagine of growing up at a refugee camp along with two of my elder sisters. Believe me; it is as hurtful as those days when I think of those difficult but true moments. Inadequate food, unhygienic public sanitation, poverty and diseases were all we lived on and fought with. It was in the year 1998; my family had decided to return to Bangladesh for a better future.
After escaping a genocide twenty six years ago which has not yet been recognized, and may never be, my parents instilled within me a burning ambition to succeed and make my circumstances my own. Difficult and never what one could call “normal,” my childhood memories are highlighted by embarrassment over my parents’ financial condition, shame over being an immigrant, shame over trying to hide it, losing out everything to the Army and stretches of poverty.
The value of education is something that I have understood since a very young age. Neither of my parents had an opportunity to attend college, and faced many struggles in their personal and professional lives because of this. Even though, they made a commitment early in my life to do everything within their power to instil in me a love of learning and an understanding of the importance of hard work and dedication.
Because of their love and sacrifice over the years, I have been able to devote the time and energy necessary to academic accomplishment though money has always been tight. Having completed my primary education from an orphanage cum residential school in Bangladesh, I had an opportunity to complete my higher secondary as well as my graduation from India under the prestigious Indian government scholarship.
The root cause of the CHTs crisis lies in the policies of the government of Bangladesh which seek to establish homogenous Bengali society. This implies the destruction of the identity of the indigenous Jumma peoples. 'Jumma' is the collective name for the eleven tribes of the CHTs. Over the last 50 years, hundreds of thousands of Bengali settlers have been moved to the CHT. A long conflict between the indigenous people and the Bangladesh government has continued until 1997 which led to numerous heinous human rights violations, attacks, illegal land grabbing, and massacres.
Ultimately, the "CHT Accord” (the CHT Peace Accord was signed on 2nd December 1997) which put a formal stop to the armed conflict. As per the CHT Accord, the promises of demilitarization, a new system of governance for indigenous people and a Land Commission to investigate and uphold indigenous land rights have not been kept. Almost 22years have passed since the accord was signed, still thousands of indigenous people remain landless and the area is effectively under military occupation. It is jeopardizing the life, land, culture, security, peace and development of the local indigenous Jumma people of CHT.
My academic performance has been always on top of class. I contribute my grades to my diligence and motivation in the secondary high school. Since my childhood, I strongly feel that working to better society in a manner that utilizes one’s strengths for maximal effect is of the highest importance. It is somehow critical as members of a global society that we remain cognizant of the challenges that plague our fellow citizens, but this is not enough. We must take action to improve the condition of humanity through whatever skills we have.
Believing this passion, I joined the movement with a regional party in Bangladesh. This was the only means to be able to contribute for my society. From the year 2010 to 2012; I have coordinated and worked with my party members by mobilizing citizens and distributing information through newspapers, radio, and mobile phones. I have participated in almost every demonstrations and rallies held in Chittagong Hill Tracts over the years, particularly in the Rangamati District. As an active member of one of the regional party, I have raised my voice against the Bangladesh government’s military system and the systematic ethnic cleansing.
Simultaneously, after completing my Bachelor’s degree in 2015, I had resumed my political stint in the name of societal contribution with great pace as the situation back then was highly critical. In Bangladesh, our voice is suppressed by the government. It all started when I took part in students' protests against government abuses, and for my membership to the opposing party and my political opinions against the Government. I have worked in mobilizing the names against continuous land grabbing and human rights violations that made the military angry with me due to which they targeted me by false fabrication. Likewise, I became a soft target of the Bangladesh military and other forces.
Thus, my history as a member of the opposing party made me a target and victim of Government violations of human rights. I have been personally detained twice before where I suffered excessive torture. In light of these human rights violations, I felt more unsafe to stay in the home country since then somehow at certain point of time; I could manage to leave my home country and moved cross-country to the South Korea almost two years ago.
Unlike Bangladesh, I have never been so overwhelmed this much as I am in Korea- I love it here. It’s been almost two years, a home away home environment or more than that, I came to be a part of JPNK and giving back to the community in a positive way.
Since my arrival in Korea, my identity is given respect and that means a lot to me. I believe that I would be able to adopt and learn in this great republic, liberal, secular and multicultural nation (Korea), and would contribute my potential to nation building in a very meaning full way.
I have got this very plan to pursue my master’s degree from one of the reputed Korean university once I will be recognized by the Korean government.
Therefore, I appeal to save my life from being persecuted and give me an opportunity to prove my worth as a faithful and recognized Korean citizen.
Human Asia hopes that Supan’s story will spread awareness and concern about universal human rights issues; to feel a little closer to the lives of individual minorities and respect “human rights” as a dignified value in our lives rather than as an abstract concept. The value of education, parents devoted to improving their children’s lives, and persistently not giving up hope for a better society and life seems to resemble the familiar memories and imags of our own society.