Sujauddin Karimuddin is a Myanmar Rohingya advocate and refugee who arrived in Australia in 2005. He is a community leader and advocate for Rohingya communities in Australia and Malaysia.
Sujauddin’s passion for supporting Rohingya refugees comes from his own experience. He was born in Rakhine State, Myanmar. When he was 17 years old, and wanting to go on to higher education, he was denied the required citizenship identity card. Because of his advocacy for Rohingya rights, he was arrested and tortured by military intelligence. He escaped by boat from the Rakhine state to Yangon and later crossed the border to the adjacent Thailand in 1998. After spending nine months in Thailand, he arrived in Malaysia in 1999. In Malaysia he spent almost six years before permanently resettling to Australia in 2005.
Sujauddin participated in DTP’s 2007 Australian diaspora program for community advocates from Burma. He says that DTP contributed massively to shaping his thoughts and his advocacy. He added that even 15 years later he applies the knowledge gathered from the DTP training.
“Everything I do today is linked to the DTP training. I learned many things from the street. DTP offered me the opportunity of learning and I utilized that opportunity. In that training, we were taught how a government functions, how politicians think, how to talk to local MPs, how to influence politicians”.
Sujuadddin is the Co-Founder and the Director of the Elom Initiative, a community organisation supporting Rohingya refugee communities in Malaysia. Elom means Knowledge in the Rohingya language. Elom equips Rohingya refugees with literacy and other life skills. Elom has directly trained 160 students and indirectly helped about 2000 Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.
In Australia, Sujauddin is establishing a Rohingya Advocacy Network to connect, support and amplify voices of the Rohingya refugees living in Australia. Many of these refugees pay taxes and are successful but are still on bridging visas after eight years. These visas deny them services that their taxes pay for and keep them in a state of arbitrary uncertainty, harmful to their mental health and separated from loved ones in other countries.
Sujauddin is also working with other community advocates from Myanmar and engaging with the National Unity Government (in exile). He is a member of the Steering Committee for DTP’s 2021/2 Myanmar Diaspora Human Rights Advocacy Program. He is hoping that together they can work for a new, inclusive, democratic Myanmar where all different ethnic nationalities and minorities have equal rights.