I come from a village called Nga Sarkyue. It is a romantic place with many green gardens and many species of trees and flowers. It is surrounded by a small river on three sides, and on its eastern side there are high mountains. We went there with friends to get some fresh air and debate. It is surrounded by farmland. But after October 201
In recent years I became more and more like a prisoner in my village. I could not move freely without the permission of the authorities – and that always cost a lot of money.
Things have been getting worse since 2012. In June, Rakhine killed 10 Rohingya in a village called Toung Gu. Then we heard that she and the government were busy killing hundreds of Rohingya in other cities and districts – burning them alive and shooting them. Many women were raped. Villages were burnt down and Rohingya were arbitrarily arrested. Many died in prison
Four years later, when I was 26 years old, nearly 300 villages were burned down by the military in Myanmar. Mosques and Islamic schools were also lit. Countless Rohingya people were arrested and sentenced to prison terms.
I also feared being arrested so in October 2016 I stopped sleeping in my house. Often I slept in the mud or in bushes or in the mountains above Nga Sarkyue.
The Burmese government had been trying for a long time to release us from Arakan [the Rohingya name for Rakhine state]. Last year, they were successful.
Armed men arrived one day in August 2017 with large guns. They fired indiscriminately at the village for hours. We had heard stories about what happened in other places. We knew we had to leave.
I left my beloved village on the 31st of August. It was 8:10 am – I wrote the exact time. I was with my family, neighbors and relatives. Our eyes were full of tears and our hearts were full of fear.
We walked for a day and reached a village called Singgri Para. Some of us rested for a week, telling each other that the situation would calm down, that there would be no need to flee to Bangladesh.
Every day we heard good news on the radio about the government of Myanmar. But we did not get one. When the brutal military set fire to the villages of Duden and Lambaguna, which are near Singgri Para, we were able to see the smoke. We finally decided to go to the border.
It was a difficult journey. We had to cross rivers and go through long mud passages. Old people died before our eyes and many weak people were left behind by their families because they could not carry them. One night we slept in a mosque in the village of Shilhali. There was nothing to eat.
When we arrived at the border, we had to go by boat to Bangladesh. When I saw the Bangladesh coast, all the fear left my heart. Bangladeshi gave us food – we were so hungry.
I spent the first night in the camp of Unsiparag, in the cabin of a relative who came before me. It was full of mud. I could not sleep all night. I just lay on the muddy ground.
The next day, I built my own cabin and searched everywhere for plastic sheeting to cover the roof and walls. I stayed with my family for two weeks, then moved to Moinaghuna Camp. There I built another hut in the middle of a wet rice field. We had nothing to drink and no real sleeping space.
Two months after my arrival in Bangladesh, I got married. The wedding had been scheduled in Myanmar. We were married in the hut where I lived. There was no ceremony and no luck.
Humanitarian groups give us rations like rice, oil and lentils. We are grateful, but it is not enough to feed my family, and we lack fresh water and shelter from the sun. The camp does not even have a single green tree. You will not find one, no matter how long you look.
I have great difficulty leading my large family of 12 people. As soon as I get a meal, I have to think about how to get the next one. When I lived in Myanmar, it was easy to lead my family because I was a teacher and got salary.
If we stay long in these camps, our community will lose its religion and unity. Our children are not raised. Despite everything, we want to return to Myanmar – but only with citizenship and our rights. We will never accept repatriation without the rights that the government of Myanmar has wrested from us long ago.
I often think about the future of children, including my own, one day. Here we have no education, no schools. I am afraid that we and our children will become like animals if we have to continue this refugee life.
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