Cox's Bazar: Rohingya Muslims ask Pope Francis for help (video and photos)
News that the pontiff would be making a visit to the area has raised hope among refugees. For some, "He is a merciful man" from whom they ask peace. Border guards let the displaced in. Hindus are among the victims in Rakhine State. Violence stops celebrations of ʿīd al-aḍḥā. People talk to our correspondent.
Cox's Bazaar (AsiaNews) – Many Rohingya Muslim refugees are stuck in a no-man's land in Tumbro, a village in Bandarban district, Bangladesh. Some, who spoke to the AsiaNews correspondent, said that Francis "is a merciful man," one who "is working for the oppressed and therefore also for us.” “As a world leader, if he joined other heads of state, the crisis would certainly be resolved.”
Since they heard that the pontiff would be coming to Myanmar and Bangladesh next November, hope has risen among them. They appeal to "Pope Francis: help us to solve our crisis."
Meanwhile, back in Rakhine State in Myanmar, where most of them come from, clashes continue and reported casualties mount. The death toll now stands at 400 people, including 13 members of the security forces, and 14 civilians.
Hostilities broke out on 25 August between the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the Myanmar military.
According to international sources, some 20,000 Muslims, originally from Bangladesh but who have lived for generations in Myanmar, have already crossed the border, leaving death and destruction behind them.
One of them is Dil Ali (not his real name) who owned three cars and lived well. “To save my life and that of my family, we ran away here,” he told AsiaNews. “Now we live under a small plastic tent, which is our home. With the hot weather, it is difficult to live under such conditions. I heard that Pope Francis will go to Myanmar. I hope he will ask the government to resolve the emergency."
Another Muslim, who also did not want to give his name, said he owned a lot of land in Rakhine. "I was born in Myanmar and I want to die in Myanmar," he said. "I did not want to leave my country. I just want our rights as citizens to be recognised. I appeal to Pope Francesco to speak with Burmese President Htin Kyaw and bring peace. "
Some refugees have not been able to find a place in Kutupalong camp, in Cox's Bazar, and settled on a hillside as best they could with only polyethylene tents on their heads for protection.
Officially, the Bangladesh Border Guards (BBG) must stop displaced people and send them back across the border. But one of them, anonymously, said that they are not always able to enforce orders.
"How can we prevent them from entering Bangladesh when we are facing sick people who need rest and medical care?" he explained.
The new outbreak of violence is also forcing Hindus, another minority community persecuted in Myanmar, to flee. So far, about 500 have managed to cross the border.
They called for help on Rana Dasgupta, head of the Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council, who visited the Kutupalong camp in Ukhia yesterday. At the end of the meeting, the Hindu leader said: "All this is inhumane. It's a genocide. "
The persecution has prevented Muslims from celebrating the feast of ʿīd al-aḍḥā, the feast of the sacrifice to God, one of the most important Islamic religious festivals marking the end of the pilgrimage to Makkah.
Nur Hossian, 34, from Shabazar, a village in Mundu District (Myanmar) remembers that "last year I offered three goats, and this year I ask for alms to eat."
Jahanara Begume, 30, is in the same pitiful condition, with her two sons. Her husband was killed by the military and she does not know how to feed her small children. "We are the most forgotten among Muslims of the earth," she said. “We are persecuted because of our faith."