Message to the world from Rahimol, a Rohingya
“We want to go home and we want peace. I believe the world is watching our crisis and that they are trying to help us.”
Rahimol, 22, comes from the village of Foira, Rakhine State, Myanmar, which he fled a few weeks ago.
My names is Rahimol Mustafa and I am 22. Before arriving here, I was a student at the local madrassa [religious school]. I really enjoyed my religious studies and sometimes I would teach the younger children too, as most of the people I lived with were uneducated.
My aim was to become a teacher and I was very happy in my village of Foira, until the military came along.
It was 3am when the military started firing their guns at our village and burning down our houses. We could not leave the house because if they saw us they would shoot, so we hid inside. Eventually, they reached our house and started firing their guns through the window, a bullet hit my knee. Many people from our village died that night. I personally saw three neighbours killed.
My father and brother took me to a hospital for medical treatment but the hospital wouldn’t accept me because of the fighting, so my relatives carried me to Bangladesh. They carried me through the mountains in order to avoid the military.
It was a very long and painful trip and my wound became severely infected. I felt so sad because the only thing my family could carry was me, we left everything else behind.
I am grateful that we have reached safety in Bangladesh and I have received some medical help from MSF [Doctors Without Borders, which is often known by its French initials], but we have no shelter and no future.
We will only have a future if there is peace at home. It is so sad what is unfolding in front of our eyes. We want to go home and we want peace. But I believe the world is watching our crisis and that they are trying to help us.
*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
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.