Rohingya crisis: Muslim women reveal rape and torture inflicted by Burma military forces

Harrowing stories follow offensive by Burmese military which UN said was 'textbook example of ethnic cleansing'

Lydia Smith
Monday 11 December 2017 16:11 GMT
Drone footage shows thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar

Rohingya women have come forward with stories of sexual assault, beatings and torture at the hands of Burmese security forces.

More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh to escape an offensive by the Burmese military described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations.

Sunuara, 25, who only gave her first name, fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after her village was attacked on 25 August.

Before she left, she had a good life and owned cows, cars and rice paddy fields, she said.

One day the military arrived and soldiers came to her home, while her husband was staying in another village with relatives and her other children were with her parents.

In front of her eyes, her son was shot in the stomach. The soldiers then decapitated him, she said.

Sunuara fled to Bangladesh after the 25 August attack from Boulibazar village (Getty Images/Allison Joyce) (Getty Images)

Sunuara, who was eight months pregnant at the time, was tied to a bed and raped by nine men for six hours, according to testimony provided to reporters with the Getty picture agency.

She lost consciousness and when she awoke, her husband and brother had found her. They carried her to the border of Bangladesh where she give birth at a hospital, but the baby died a day later.

Roshida Begum, 22, escaped from Tula Toli village in Burma at the end of August.

The military is accused of petrol-bombing her village and setting houses on fire, shooting anyone they saw on the spot.

Roshida lost 17 members of her family when he village was attacked (Getty Images/Allison Joyce) (Getty Images)

Roshida tried to hide on a riverbank with others, but the military found her. Her husband swam across and escaped.

The soldiers shot the young boys and threw babies and children in the river, she said, adding that they took jewellery off the women and made them kneel up to their necks in a pond.

Roshida recalls a helicopter circling overhead at the time.

The military then took groups of four or five women into houses and raped them, including Roshida. She said her baby, who was 25 days old, was thrown to the ground and killed.

Roshida shows scars left by the attack (Getty Images/Allison Joyce) (Getty Images)

After the men were done, she said they slit the women’s necks with machetes and set the house on fire. Roshida survived and escaped, hiding in a paddy field until she came across another woman - and together they crossed into Bangladesh.

Roshida’s husband found her in an MSF clinic and they were moved to a camp. In the attack, she claims to have lost 17 members of her family, including her mother, father and brother.

“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.

Soldiers cut Roshida's neck with a machete (Getty Images/Allison Joyce) (Getty Images)

“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, also fled Tula Toli village.

She ran and hid but her husband was shot. As he lay dying, she told him: “I have lived many years with you, if I made any mistakes, please forgive me.”

Mumtaz escaped a burning house set on fire by the military (Getty Images/Allison Joyce)

Fatally injured, he asked the soldiers for water, and they shot him again, she said.

Mumtaz was then taken to a house with some of their children and raped. When the children screamed, they hit them with machetes. The soldiers then lit the house on fire.

She managed to escape the flames but suffered severe burns, and hid in a forest until a group of people found her and carried her to the border.

“I want justice and I want to tell the world all the things the military did,” she said.

“They raped and killed us. We want justice.”

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