Myanmar’s military crackdown against the Rohingya Muslim community has forced hundreds of people across the border into Bangladesh.
Haunting accounts of escape from Myanmar’s Rakhine state are pouring in as the destitute people arrive in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar district.
Since Myanmar doesn’t allow media coverage of the embattled region, it’s only after the refugees’ arrival in Bangladesh that journalists are able to report the abuses they faced prior to their escape.
The stories collected by major news outlets more or less narrate the same horrors: Myanmar’s army looting and burning Rohingya villages, raping women and murdering villagers at will.
Al Jazeera interviewed refugees who escaped Rakhine and hid “in rice fields for days.”
“Some didn't eat. Others ate only leaves they found in the forests on the hills surrounding the border,” the news channel reported.
Time magazine covered the tragic story of Arafa, a 25-year-old Rohingya woman, who, prior to entering Bangladesh for refuge, had six children.
Now, she has five.
She told the magazine that a Burmese soldier “snatched and separated” her 8-year-old child and “flung him into the blaze” that destroyed Arafa’s village.
20-year-old Mohsena Begum, another young Rohingya mother, told the Associated Press how Burmese soldiers pulled four leaders of a Rohingya village and “slit their throats.”
Mohsena, whose husband died in the violence before she was able to flee across the border into Bangladesh with her son, says she was also raped.
Despite so many reports of atrocities being carried at the hands of Burmese Army, Myanmar’s de facto leader and former Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi recently accused the international community of “stoking resentment between Buddhists and Muslims” in her country.
Around 21,000 Rohingya Muslims have sought asylum in Bangladesh over the past two months and scores have been murdered.
How much more death and destruction will it take to make the human rights champion understand that the Rohingya Muslim community is indeed under attack in Myanmar?