JOURNALIST & REFUGEE ADVOCATE
Joniad is a Rohingya Journalist based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He was a student of political science and a human rights activist. He was formerly an Engineering and Physics student in Myanmar, before being forced to flee to Indonesia. He is one of the founders and an editor of thearchipelago.org writers collective, as well as the featured star in Freedom Street documentary.
In 2012, Joniad was in his second year of university studies, majoring in Physics at Sittwe University, when the government instigated the Massacre of the Rohingya ethnic minority. Joniad was forced to escape and run for his life to Bangladesh. However, he did not want to leave his home country and made efforts to return. He tried to move to Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, to continue his study in safety. Tragically, by 2013 the hatred against the Rohingya was spreading all over Myanmar, and endangered his life. That is when he was compelled to leave his country permanently, hoping to find refuge in Australia.
Like all Rohingyas, he was denied citizenship and became an illegal immigrant in his own country; this meant he was stateless and could no longer obtain a passport. It was even dangerous for him to front up at government offices. Left with no option, he opted to cross the border illegally, trekking from Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and finally to Indonesia. He was unlucky to arrive in 2013, a critical year when Australia shut the door on refugees. Detained for nearly two years in Indonesia, he was finally released into IOM accommodation in Makassar and has been waiting for a resettlement to a safe third country, such as America or Canada.
Joniad has never given up, despite the uncertainty of his future and status as an illegal immigrant with no basic rights in Indonesia. Throughout the times, even whilst in detention, Joniad has been preparing for his future. With determination and relentless optimism, he morphed the detention situation into a boarding university in his mind.
Acting rationally, he had brought some books from Myanmar and later purchasing more from Indonesia on English writing, speaking, politics and general knowledge. He then volunteered to teach English to refugees from different countries. After moving into IOM accommodation in Makassar, he joined online to study for a diploma in Political Science, whilst also undertaking numerous assignments in international relations and journalism.
His first article was published in Tempo and in the Australian media, including SBS and BuzzFeed. He has built a relationship with al Jazeera and BBC Indonesia and many other international media. You can read some of his works here. His story is well documented and will appear in an upcoming documentary, titled Freedom Street.
His publications have enabled him to share refugee stories and draw international attention to their tragedies. He has also distributed his own story and captured the interest of compassionate Canadians, who are now helping him to resettle in Canada through community sponsorship.
Today, he contributes his skill as an editor at Archipelago magazine training. His joy is to guide his fellow refugees to publish their own stories, following their dreams for a new life, spreading the news about refugees and advocating for safe and durable solutions his all refugees.