An eight-month-pregnant woman gang-raped by soldiers after they decapitated her son in front of her. A victim set on fire after troops raped her and killed her husband. Brave survivors reveal the hell of Myanmar’s Rohingya purge
Published: 10:39 EST, 6 December 2017 | Updated: 10:46 EST, 6 December 2017
Roshida Begum, 22, fled to Bangladesh shortly after an attack in August. She said one day the military came to her village and threw petrol bombs and set houses on fire. She fled and hid on a riverbank, where the military found her with others. Her husband swam across and escaped. Roshida said troops shot the young boys and stole the women’s jewellery. They took little children and babies and threw them into the river
One was gang-raped by soldiers after they decapitated her son in front of her. Another was set on fire after after troops raped her and killed her husband.
These four brave Rohingya Muslims have told their chilling stories after escaping Myanmar and reaching Bangladesh.
There has been widespread rape and sexual assault on Rohingya women and girls by Burmese security forces during violence against the ethnic minority in Rakhine State.
More than half of the survivors of sexual assault receiving treatment by humanitarian organizations in refugee camps at the Bangladesh border are below 18 years old.
The United Nations human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said in Geneva on Tuesday that Burmese security forces may be guilty of genocide, adding international pressure on Myanmar to be investigated for crimes against humanity.
The purge began in November 2016 as the government responded to alleged attacks on Myanmar border posts by Rohingya insurgents.
Then they took the women to a pond and made them kneel up to their necklaces in the water. A helicopter was circling overhead. The military took groups of four to five women into houses and raped them Roshida’s baby was 25 days old. They grabbed him from her arms and smashed him on the ground so hard he died, she said. After the men raped her and the other women, they slit their necks with machetes. Roshida said: ‘They thought I was dead and they left and set the house on fire. I was the only one who escaped.’
Roshida hid in a paddy field and in a forest until she came across another woman and her daughter, and together they crossed into Bangladesh. For 8 days they walked, surviving by drinking water from the paddy fields. She took a boat into Bangladesh and she went to the MSF clinic, where she spent 18 days recovering. Her husband found her there, and when she was discharged they moved into a camp
In the attack, Roshida lost her mother, father, brother, all together she lost 17 members of her family. ‘In Bangladesh, sometimes I’m happy, but then I’ll see an old man and miss my father, or I’ll see a woman with a baby, and I’ll miss my son,’ she said.
Roshida added: ‘I can’t help but cry. I want justice from the world, why did they kill my mother and father and sisters? I hope the world will give me justice. They killed my parents and relatives for no reason.’
Mumtaz Begum, 30, says that one night the military attacked her village and burned homes. Everyone ran and hid but the military found them. They shot her husband in front of her, and as he lay dying she told him ‘I have lived many years with you, if I made any mistakes, please forgive me.’ As he lay injured he asked the military for some water, and they responded by shooting him again, and he died
Then the military took her and five other women to a house, with some of their children. They started raping her and the other women and when the children screamed, they hit them in the head with machetes. They hit one of her sons, splitting his skull open, and he died. They also hit her daughter, but she survived and escaped the house. When the military was done raping her and the other women, they lit the house on fire
Mumtaz crawled through the flames as her clothes caught fire and the roof caved in, and was the only woman who managed to escape. The other five women burned to death. She hid in the forest until a group of people found her and carried her to the border and into Bangladesh. Mumtaz said: ‘I want justice and I want to tell the world all the things the military did. They raped and killed us. We want justice.’
Sunuara, 25, said she had a good life in Myanmar. She was wealthy, she had 42 cows, two cars, and rice paddy fields. One day the military attacked her village and soldiers came to her home. Her husband was staying in another village with relatives and her other children were staying with her parents
Only Sunuara’s 16 year old son was home with her, and in front of her eyes the military shot him in the stomach and then cut off his head with a machete. Then they tied her wrists and ankles with rope to her bedposts and 9 men took turns raping her for six hours. She was eight months pregnant at the time, and the military punched and kicked her stomach
Sunuara lost consciousness and when she woke up, her husband and brother found her. For six days they carried her to the border while she drifted in and out of consciousness. They crossed into Bangladesh where she gave birth at a hospital, but her baby died a day later
Minwara Begum, 17, fled to Bangladesh shortly after the August 25 attack from Tula Toli village in Myanmar. One morning she was cooking when she heard shooting. Her mother went out to see what was happening and saw the military throwing petrol bombs on all the houses
She said: ‘All of us started running and the military shot us in the back. They shot me, my mum, sister, sister in law, nephew, two of my brothers. I lost six members of my family. I just kept on running. The military found us where we were hiding and took me, my sister and cousin and other women to a house. They tied our eyes and legs and hands with a black cloth and started to rape me.’
Minwara added: ‘I don’t know how many men raped me. There were six of us in the room and they killed three of the women. When they were finished they left the house and threw a petrol bomb on it. The whole house caught fire and I used the fire to burn the cloth off that was keeping my legs and hands tied. I tried to help the other women in the house escape, I tried to carry them, but I was too weak.’
Minwara continued: ‘I crawled out through the small chicken door and hid in a paddy field. The other five women in the house all burned to death.’ For days she hid in the paddy field and forest until a group of other people came through and helped her. She spent days walking with them to the Bangladesh border, where she took a boat across to Bangladesh
Minwara spent a week in a hospital in Bangladesh until she recovered. She said: ‘Here in Bangladesh, I feel so restless and worried. People say they’re going to send us back to Myanmar, and once again they’ll shoot and beat us there. I’m so worried. They did these things to us, they raped us, I’m not afraid to talk about it. I don’t feel ashamed to tell the world. I want justice, but I know the world cannot give me justice.’
Dildar Begum, 30, becomes emotional while her 10 year old daughter, Nurkalima, looks on. She says that one day the military came and opened fired on her village and stormed into her house. They took her husband out of the house and to the riverbank and shot him
Then they came back into her house and grabbed her baby from her arms and stabbed him in the head. They killed another one of her children by cutting his throat, and another by beating her over the head with a rifle
Two soldiers held her arms while another raped her. They then beat her and she pretended to be dead. When they left, they set her house on fire. Her 10 year old daughter, Nurkalima, was severely injured when the military beat her over the head with the blades of machetes, but she helped her mother crawl past the burning bodies of her children and out of the burning house
For 5 days she hid in the hills and when the military left, she went back to Tula Toli on her way to the Bangladesh border. All that was left of her village was smoke and ask where houses used to be
There were bodies everywhere, so many that they were uncountable. She came across some men who carried her for two days to the border, where they were able to cross into Bangladesh by boat
She said: ‘I don’t see any future for me here in Bangladesh. My husband is dead, who will earn money for me and my daughter? I want justice. My kids were killed, I want justice for them.’