A photo of Zafor Alam’s dead 16-month-old son lying face down in the dirt after attempting to escape Myanmar has gone viral in an effort to raise awareness around the Rohingya refugee crisis.
The Rohingya people claimed they have been persecuted by the Myanmar military and many leaving the country have recounted everything from rape, murder and arson by security forces, according to the Daily Mail.
The toddler, Mohammed Shohayet, was trying to flee his home in Rakhine State with his family, cross Naf River and make it to Bangladesh when their boat sank.
Mohammed’s body was later found washed up, face down in the mud and a graphic photo of the boy is reminiscent of Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, who drowned off the coast of Turkey.
“In our village, helicopters fired guns at us, and the Myanmar soldiers also opened fire on us. My grandfather and grandmother were burnt to death. Our whole village was burnt by the military. Nothing left,” Zafor told CNN.
“When I see the picture, I feel like I would rather die,” he went on. “There is no point in me living in this world. I want to let the whole world know. The Myanmar government should not be given any more time. If you take time to take action, they will kill all Rohingyas.”
Thousands of Rohingya people have crossed the border into Bangladesh in an effort to escape the Buddhist-dominated country of Myanmar, also known as Burma.
As many as 120,000 have been forced into internment camps since conflict erupted in Rakhine in 2012, with people being denied citizenship, healthcare and education.
A video has also surfaced in the past week showing Muslim civilians being beaten by Myanmar police.
However, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has said the allegations over human rights abuses are made up and resisted international pressure to protect the minority.
A commission investigating the violence released its interim report last week dismissing abuse claims or security forces have started a campaign to force the Rohingya people out.
The size of the “Bengali” population — or illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh — mosques and religious buildings in the area “are proof that there were no cases of genocide and religious persecution,” according to a statement made by the commission in state media.
It has also found “insufficient evidence” of rape and was still investigating claims of arson, illegal arrest and torture.