.
.
.
.

Many Rohingya carry memories of persecution in their mobile phones

Published: Updated:

With tiny bits of their old lives packed up into small sacks that they clutch onto tightly, more than 630,000 Rohingya refugees have poured across the border from Myanmar into Southern Bangladesh since late August.

They bring with them stories of violent persecution by Myanmar's security forces.

Their village, their homes, their cattle, their gold, everything that they owned, have now become just memories.

Memories that are sometimes stored in their mobile phones.

As 22-year-old Mujib Ullah was sitting down with his sisters inside his dark, bamboo and tarp shelter at the Kutupalong Refugee Camp, he recalled the time he said Myanmar security forces attacked his village of Khularbil along with the neighbouring village of Borgiyabil.

The video shows people in Borgiyabil trying to douse the flames after Myanmar's military attacked with "petrol bombs".

Ullah said despite their desperate efforts to put out the fire with buckets of sand and water, the homes kept burning.

Soon after the attack, Ullah's family came out of their home along with other people from the village, thinking the military had left.
The sound of gunfire began rather abruptly and the bullets caught many villagers by surprise.

"Some people were able to save themselves, others could not", Ullah said.

"My brother could not save himself. He was riddled with bullets."
Mohammad Fahid, 15, said he often finds himself looking through old photos and videos on his phone, remembering his friends and all the laughter and good times they shared back home in Myanmar.

When asked what he missed the most, he replied quickly and said he missed going to school more than anything else.

"I remember my country. I miss it a lot," Fahid said.

Life in the congested refugee camps of Bangladesh is not easy.
With next to no opportunities for work, men and women worry most about what they are going to eat for their next meal.

Almost 60 percent of the refugees are children, who spend their time either loitering around the camps or helping their family carry aid or firewood.

For 16-year-old Abdul Hasan, watching videos he had shot on his phone is the closest he gets to experiencing his old life and his country.

His mobile phone shows Hasan's friends having a "coconut party", after finishing an after-school excursion.

A rebel song hailing the bravery of a Rohingya rebel leader Ata Ullah plays in the background as Hasan and his friends eat coconuts and laugh as they throw coconuts on each other.

The government of Buddhist-majority Myanmar has refused to accept Rohingya Muslims as a minority group, even though they have been living in the country for generations.

Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship in 1982, denying them almost all rights and rendering them stateless.

Though talks of repatriation and resettlement of Rohingya refugees have been initiated between the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar, it seems it is going to be a very long time before they can go back home.