Ethiopia Somali News Agency
`Rohingya community expresses sense of relief after meeting Pope
Rohingya community expresses sense of relief after meeting Pope
DHAKA: Eleven-year-old Shawakat Ara could not hold her emotion after meeting Pope Francis on Friday evening. For some time she could not utter a word.
“Pope assured me that everything would be fine and he would fight for our rights,” said Ara, narrating her brief interaction with the pontiff in Dhaka.
With eyes moist and voice quivering, Ara said she felt “emotionally touched when Pope held her hands and put his hand on my head. I felt someone is there to hear and understand my pain.”
Ara was the youngest of the 16-member Rohingya group that was brought in from the refugee camps in Cox Bazar, southern Bangladesh, to meet the Vatican chief.
Narrating her personal tragedy to Arab News, Ara said: “My parents, grandparents, maternal aunts, brothers and sisters were killed by the Burmese military in a shoot-out last year before Eid.
“I witnessed the killing of my parents from the hiding place in my home. My younger brother was also beaten to death. I fled home along with my fellow villagers and after two days of hard journey I took a boat and reached a refugee camp in Bangladesh.
“I have lost my home, my parents. I have nothing to look forward to. I hope the Pope really does something for me and my community.”
Hajjera Khatun, 29, nurtures a similar hope. Last year, when she was fleeing her Imam Para village in Buchi Dong area of Myanmar, she was subjected to gang rape by the Myanmar army when she lost her way in the melee and got separated from her husband. When she regained consciousness, she resumed her journey in a condition so heart-wrenching that the boatman at the Myanmar-Bangladesh border took pity on her and ferried her to the other side of the river without charging any money.
“I narrated my travails to the Pope and all the brutalities I have gone through. He told me God is almighty and He will shower blessings on me,” said Khatun.
Talking to Arab News she added: “Pope told me that when he goes back home he will discuss about my issue and the issue of the community with others.”
On the penultimate day of his Bangladesh trip, Pope Francis met a group of Rohingya refugees and assured them all of support in their fight for rights in Rohingya.
“Pope’s gesture is very important and this will help in galvanizing international political and moral support for the cause of the hapless Muslim community in Myanmar,” said Nezam Uddin, a Rohingya activist, living in Naya Para refugee camp in Cox Bazar in Bangladesh.
“Pope advocated for the rights and dignity of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. This will further put pressure on the Buddhist regime in Myanmar to treat us with respect that we deserve,” Nezam told Arab News.
“Hope something comes out of Pope’s visit. Life is a suffering for us and the world community should take note of that and address our problem,” said Sayadur Rehman, a carpenter living in Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.