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‘Myanmar army shot my parents dead’

By Amanur Rahman Rony / Dhaka Tribune

60% of the Rohingya refugees arriving in Bangladesh are children

 Myanmar’s brutal military crackdown on Rohingya sparked a mass exodus of more than 400,000 members of the Muslim minority to Bangladesh in less than a month.

60% of the refugees who fled persecution in the Rakhine state are children – many of whom lost both parents when the army and local mobs attacked Rohingya villages.

Many of the orphans are scattered across refugee camps in Teknaf, mostly living with their relatives and surviving members of their families.

Some of these children told tales of horror.

Md Jakaria, 13

He lived with parents – Sokhina Katun and Nur Ahmed – at Sarwar Dighi in Maungdaw. He only remembers that it was on a Friday that his life was turned upside down.

“The military took away my father along with all other men from our village. Then they set fire to our house with my mother inside. She was burned to death,” he said.

Jakaria said he fled to Bangladesh with his neighbours. He has a sister but he did not know where she was now.

Md Jubayer, 7

Jubayer is from Maungdaw’s Hashuyat area. His parents Hashim Ullah and Nur Jahan have both been killed. He fled with his aunt Hamida Khatun.

“The military torched our village and shot my parents dead,” he said.

Asmot Ara, 8

Asmot Ara came from Maungdaw’s Mamapara with his elder sister and brother. They were separated from their parents during the military crackdown.

“The army fired indiscriminately after setting our village on fire. People ran in every direction and we lost out parents in the chaos,” she said.

“Our grandmother is currently looking after us,” she added.

Jannat Ara, 8

Jannat’s house was in Maungdaw’s Nawyapara. The army killed her parents Shamsun Nahar and Basher Ahmed, and her elder sister.

She said: “I came here with my aunt Rasheda Begum. The army shot my family dead.”

Md Faysal, 11

Faysal said he lived in Maungdaw’s Sayeadeya area with his parents – Md Sayead, Ramija Khatun – and siblings Moktakina, 7, and Halima, 3.

He said: “I came here with my grandmother Amnena Khatun.

“We had a happy family. One morning, the military entered our village and burned down the entire area. I could not find my parents after the incident.”

Malek Hossain, 7

Malek and his eight-year-old sister Asmat Ara came to Bangladesh with their grandmother Farzana Begum. All other family members are dead.

Malek said: “My parents were burned to death in the fire set by the military.”

Maisar Begum, 14

Maisar said he fled the violence from Maungdaw’s Dakshin Para with his younger brother Morshed.

“First they opened fire on the villagers and then they torched everything,” he recalled.

The Rohingya are the world’s largest stateless community and one of the most persecuted minorities. Mistreatment of Rohingya by Buddhist-majority Myanmar stretch back decades. Naypyitaw denies them citizenship and considers them illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

Myanmar military responded to August 25 insurgent attacks on police posts and an army base with a brutal campaign targeting the Rohingya. The UN has described Myanmar violence as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.