“We are citizens of Myanmar, if they were to declare us citizens, we would be very happy. This is what we want.”
Jashim, 12, comes from Rakhine State, Myanmar, which he fled 13 days ago.
My names is Jashim and I am 12 years old. Before the crisis, I was at school studying. My favourite subject was English because I thought that if I knew how to speak English then I could communicate with many people across the world and express my opinion to them. I hope I can continue studying soon because I want to become a teacher.
When the military came into our village we had to run away and hide. I saw lots of soldiers, maybe 100 or 200. They were shooting at us and burning down our houses – I was very afraid.
We hid in the jungle and then started walking to Bangladesh. It took 13 days so sometimes we had to stop in the jungle and make ourselves shelters out of the forest.
It was a difficult journey, we crossed big hills and some small rivers. While we were walking, I was always afraid that the military would be around the corner, and just before we reached Bangladesh, we had to be careful because the military had planted little bombs under the ground that would explode if we walked on them.
I’m very upset about my village because it’s not there any more. We did not bring anything, so it is all lost. I came with my mother but my father is still in Rakhine State. He told us to save ourselves and that he would join us at a later date, but we don’t know where he is and we have not heard from him.
I’m worried the military found him or he stepped on a small bomb. I’m glad that we are safe, but it is difficult here because there are no houses to live in and we have to sleep on the wet ground.
My message to the world is that we are citizens of Myanmar, if they were to declare us citizens, we would be very happy. This is what we want.
As told to Katie Arnold in Unchi Prank new shelter camp in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
The plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya
An estimated more than 270,000, mainly women and children, have fled to Bangladeshin the last two 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.