‘They raped and shot my two daughters before my eyes’: Rohingya refugees narrate horrifying tales of military crackdown

Around 600,000 people fled Myanmar since late August following a military crackdown. They are now living in sprawling Rohingya refugee camps near Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. All that has left in the Rakhine state is a cramped shanty city of bamboo, tarpaulin and mud.

A distressed Rohingya farmer says, “I lost my two sons and two daughters. At midnight the military come in my house and burnt the house, but first they raped my two daughters and they shot my two daughters in front of me.”

The Wire has quoted the farmer as saying, ‘I have no words to express how it was for me to suffer to look at my daughters being raped and killed in front of me. My two sons were also killed by the government. I was not able to get the dead bodies of my daughters, it is a great sorrow for me.’

The Wire has also quoted Ronan Lee an author who mentions, ‘witnesses described to me how, when the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) arrived at their village, the soldiers fired weapons and killed people inside wooden homes, arrested young men, raped women, told residents to leave, and then burned homes to prevent the residents’ return.’

Media and humanitarian access is prevented in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where the Rohingya have mostly lived. However satellite images released by NGO Human Rights Watch show almost 300 Rohingya villages razed. In some instances, these burnt Muslim villages stand adjacent to fully intact Buddhist communities.

Disturbingly, at the camps in Bangladesh, UN doctors have treated dozens of Rohingya women for injuries consistent with violent sexual assaults.

An elderly man who has recently arrived in Kutupalong Camp told that the military led us to prayer and some kind of religious work, and they openly told us to go to Bangladesh – otherwise you will be killed.

Another Rohingya man narrated that they were living in peace until one midnight they heard the sound of bullets, they went outside to see what is happening. ‘I think they behaved like this – arresting, torturing, shooting, hitting – because we are Rohingya and Muslim. We’re not at fault, we are really innocent’ said the man.

A 60 year old man who suffered a bullet injury on leg said one of his four sons was killed by the military in front of me, and one arrested, and one of my daughters – my adult daughter – was arrested but I don’t know where she is.

A Rohingya man in his 20s said I humbly request to you that, we want to be human, live as a human, but Myanmar treats us as animals. We want to go back there as humans.