Impact in Profile: Nurusseher

Impact in Profile: Nurusseher

A Rohingya refugee’s account of her last days at home

The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority who have lived in Myanmar for hundreds of years but were effectively stripped of their citizenship by the Myanmar government (then known as Burma) and made stateless in 1982.

A campaign of genocidal violence that began in August 2017 has pushed some 650,000 ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh, where they live in what is now the largest refugee camp in the world.

One is a woman named Nurusseher, who lives in a makeshift shelter in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Nurusseher is among the dozens of Rohingya refugees who have given their stories to USC Shoah Foundation about what happened to them.

Nurusseher's Message for Help

Language: Rohingya

Nurusseher is a Rohingya refugee. An English transcript of Nurusseher's message is below:

“Greetings. I am from Shoab Prang  village which is in the township of Rathidaung. We were persecuted and tortured by the military. We lost our relatives and our children, all innocent people. Then, we fled to Bangladesh. My husband’s name is Bellu. In Shoab Prang, 350 people were killed by the military and 56 men were arrested, including my husband. The military tightly bound their bodies with steel rope and took the men away. I do not know where he is. It is not even clear to me if he is alive or dead. The ones who would know what happened are the Ukhangda [the local Rakhine leader] Aung Chay and  the military representative. They know if he is alive or not. We urge to the international community to seek justice for us and to find out if our missing Rohingya are alive or not. We fled here to Bangladesh and want the international community to know about what happened to us. We are depending on you. Please help us.”

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Nurusseher says the stepped up oppression by the Myanmar government and Buddhist civilian collaborators began when the military cordoned off her village and shut down the mosque and madrassa.

“Children of Rakhine – the ethnic majority – could study, but Rohingya’s children could not,” she said. “Nobody was allowed out from five in the morning to six at night. We could not go to the market, to our pastures, or to the forest for firewood. We could not go fishing. We could not even go out with torch light to the latrines because the military sat beside the road with guns.”

They lived under these restrictions for six months, she said. One day, when she was in the house and her children were outside playing soccer, Nurusseher heard a noise. She went outside.

“Like ants, the military came from everywhere,” she said. “There must have been at least 1,200 soldiers all wearing green clothes bearing a red badge with a moon and star symbol. Each soldier carried a long gun that was spiked at the top.”

Nurusseher asserts that many were killed, and several hundred more were harmed. The village was destroyed.

“Those who survived this attack were then gathered in one place,” she said. “Gold and silver earrings and nose rings were torn from the ears and nose. Men and women were separated. Females were raped.”

Nurusseher fled with her children to the embankment across the creek. Her husband went missing, and hasn’t been found. She and the children survived hiding near a pond for seven days and then ran into Bangladesh with only the clothing they wore. Now, they await their fate in the camp.