Message to the world from Ahessan, a Rohingya

‘I want the world to put themselves in our shoes – we are humans in the same way that you are humans.’

Ahessan [Katie Arnold/Al Jazeera]
Ahessan, 30 [Katie Arnold/Al Jazeera]

Ahessan, 30, comes from Rakhine State, Myanmar, which he fled in recent weeks.

My name is Ahessan, I am 30 years old. Before the crisis, I was a farmer in my home village of Chin Khali, but I also taught English to children after work, so I was a very busy man. 

On the morning of August 25, I was having breakfast with my family when the military entered the village and started firing their guns at us. It was indiscriminate and five members of my family died.

I found my mother lying on the floor with bullet wounds in her back, my sister lay nearby with stab wounds to her face and body. It was the most distressing scene I have witnessed, but I did not have time to be sad as I was scared the military would shoot me, too.

A soldier tried to rape my sister, she resisted but they still beat her up. She is so traumatised that she has not spoken a word since, and she can barely move – my brother and I carried her here with some bamboo and a blanket. 

We saw many terrible things on the road to Bangladesh – there were dead bodies, children crying and old people starving. When we reached the border there were over a thousand other Rohingya trying to cross the river – eventually, we found a boat which took us across. 

Our life in Bangladesh is very miserable – we do not have proper shelter, there is no sanitation and there is not enough space for all the refugees to sleep. We are living, but it is so horrible we might as well be dead. I worry that the Rohingya people will die out soon – if we stay in Myanmar then we will be killed, but here we have no life. 

I believe the whole world is helping and supporting us and for that, I am very grateful. But I want the world to put themselves in our shoes – we are humans in the same way that you are humans, yet you are citizens of a country and we are not. I appeal to the whole world, please let us be citizens of a country, let us live like you. 

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

*This interview has been edited for clarity.

The plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya

Around 370,000 Rohingya, mainly women and children, have fled to Bangladesh since August 25 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.

INTERACTIVE: Refugee settlements near Cox's Bazar Bangladesh and more maps [Al Jazeera]
INTERACTIVE: Refugee settlements near Cox’s Bazar Bangladesh and more maps [Al Jazeera]

Read more to find out who are Myanmar’s Rohingya

Source: Al Jazeera