Message to the world from Begum Jaan, a Rohingya

“I feel like the outside world is supporting us a lot and that makes me feel better. I want everyone to hear our story.”

Begum, Jaan, 65 [Katie Arnold/Al Jazeera]
Begum Jaan, 65 [Katie Arnold/Al Jazeera]

Begum Jaan, 65, comes from Rakhine State, Myanmar, which she fled in recent weeks.

My life has been one long struggle. My husband died 25 years ago, and since then I have been begging on the streets of my village to survive. Both my daughters are married, so I had no one to support me.

One night I woke up to the sound of guns and explosions – they were so loud, I could not bear it. I have not been able to sleep since as I can still hear those noises in my head.

Everyone was fleeing, so I fled with them, I did not want to be left on my own. It took me two days to reach Bangladesh, I found the journey very difficult as I need a walking stick and no one accompanied me, even though I saw lots and lots of people heading to Bangladesh. I had heard the military had ships patrolling the river, so I was very scared when crossing it by boat.

Even though I am now in Bangladesh, I am still scared I will run into the Myanmar military. But I am happier now, as I can not hear the sound of guns or explosions.

I feel like the outside world is supporting us a lot and that makes me feel better. I want everyone to hear our story, I want the whole world to hear our sorrows, but I don’t know what good it will do. We don’t have a future; our lives are hopeless.

*As told to Katie Arnold in Balukhali new shelter camp near Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

*This interview has been edited for clarity.

The plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya

Nearly 300,000 Rohingya, mainly women and children, have fled to Bangladesh in the recent weeks as a result of indiscriminate violence against civilian populations carried out by the Myanmar army.

The UN and other human rights organisations have warned that the mass exodus following killings, rapes, and burned villages are signs of “ethnic cleansing”, pleading for the international community to pressure Aung San Suu Kyi and her government to end the violence.

“The situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said on Monday, September 11.

Rohingya ethnic groups

Read more to find out who Myanmar’s Rohingya are

Source: Al Jazeera