Message to the world from Nasima Khatun, a Rohingya

“If we go back we’ll be either tortured or killed… [Hear] our stories of sorrow… how [would you] feel in our shoes?”

Nasima [Katie Arnold/Al Jazeera]
Nasima, Khatun, 60 [Katie Arnold/Al Jazeera]

Nasima Khatun, 60, comes from Rakhine State, Myanmar, which she fled a few weeks ago.

“My name is Nasima Khatun and I am 60 years old. We lived a quite life before the crisis, my husband was a fisherman and we had three daughters – we lived very well for Rohingya. Although we encountered some pressure from the military, we did not face any problems with regards to food or shelter.

When the military started firing their guns in our village we all ran in different directions. I was hiding in the jungle when someone told me my husband had been shot. I felt helpless and afraid.

The military took over the village so I could not return to bring back the body, we had to leave him there and quickly move to Bangladesh.

I travelled with my daughters and some neighbours from the village, we could not carry anything with us so we just ate and drank whatever we found on the way. One day, we passed an abandoned shop which we looted – that was the only real food we ate during the 10-day journey; we were so hungry.

I cried and cried the whole way so my neighbours took pity on me and paid for our boat trip across to Bangladesh. I was so sad to leave Myanmar, I lost my husband there, my house, my land and everything I own.

We’ve managed to build a shelter here, and the local Bangladeshis have supported us with food donations. But I have no opportunity to earn money, there is no work for us to do. What type of future can we have if we don’t have any money?

Everyone wants to go back to Myanmar but I don’t think that will ever be possible, it will never be safe there again. If we go back we’ll be either tortured or killed. I believe the world is watching our situation. My request is that they empathise – that the world hears our stories of sorrow and death and imagines how they would feel in our shoes.”

*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

More than 400,000 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.

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