Satellite imagery analyzed by Human Rights Watch confirms that the Rohingya villages of Tula Toli and nearby Dual Toli were completely destroyed by arson – a total of 746 buildings – while the neighboring non-Rohingya villages remain intact. An estimated 4,300 Rohingya villagers lived in Tula Toli prior to the attack.
The Burmese military and government have repeatedly denied allegations of security force violations. On November 13, a Burmese army investigation team issued a report asserting that security forces had committed no abuses during the Rakhine State operations, and that there were “no deaths of innocent people.”
Yet accounts from Tula Toli support the conclusion that since August 25, the Burmese military has committed abuses against the Rohingya that amount to crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution, and forced deportation. The report includes lists of numerous families decimated in the Tula Toli attack, with names of more than 120 killed, recounted by those who were often the sole survivors from their family. A report released on December 12 by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) found that at least 6,700 Rohingya died due to violence in the month after military operations began in late August, based on mortality surveys conducted in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
The Burmese government should immediately cease its campaign of ethnic cleansing and urgently provide unimpeded access to Rakhine State for humanitarian aid groups and the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission. The UN Security Council and concerned governments should impose targeted sanctions on Burmese military leaders and key military-owned enterprises, including travel bans and restrictions on access to financial institutions, as well as a comprehensive military embargo on Burma.
“The UN and foreign governments need to ensure that those responsible for these grave abuses are held accountable,” Adams said. “Condemnations are not enough to bring justice to the victims of Tula Toli. Concerted international action is needed now.”
Testimonies From the Report
The soldiers separated the men from the women and the children. They put the women and children near the bank of the river, and they put the men in a different place on the beach. Some of the men were seated, others were trying to run away in fear. They were being slaughtered, killed with shovels and the army was also shooting them and killing them with sharp weapons.… They dug a big hole and then also used the natural holes in the beach to put bodies in, and then they burned them with gasoline. I saw them slide the bodies in. –Rajuma Khatoum, 35
Between 7 and 10 soldiers took us to a room in a house. I could hear women and girls screaming from the other rooms. They first took my child and threw him down on the ground. He was still alive then, and I had to watch as they slaughtered him. The children of the other two women were killed the same way. A few minutes later, they took the bodies of the children and threw them on a fire outside.
Then the soldiers raped all three of us women. I was on my back [being raped] for an hour. It was four or five soldiers.… They beat us all until we were half dead, and then they set the house on fire. I saw that one of the corners of the bamboo wall had a hole in it. I made it bigger by kicking it, and I escaped from the house. No one else came out of that house. They all burned to death inside.
–Rajuma Begum, 20
About 10 soldiers took us away [to a house].… If they found children alive, they shot them or beat them to death. When we first entered, we couldn’t even really enter the room because of the number of bodies already there, there were so many.
One of the soldiers had a big wooden stick, and he hit me on the head and knocked me semi-unconscious. Then they were hitting the children. They stripped us naked, searching for our valuables. It is all blurry, but I remember them beating my 10-year-old sister-in-law – they hit her in the head with a big stick. Her face was swelling up and she was just screaming loudly in pain. Then she was just breathing loudly, and then she was barely breathing. And then she died.
The house was already on fire when I woke up. I saw another woman on fire. She tried to stand up, but she fell down again. Burning objects were falling on us from the roof. So I stood up and stepped over the bodies of the others, and broke the [bamboo] wall with my leg and escaped. The other woman burned to death inside. Only I managed to escape, no one else came out alive from the house. –“Fatima,” 15
I tried to go back to get the bodies of my children, but they were already on fire.
All four of my children were with me. I was holding them. They smashed the baby first, then they killed the two boys, first hitting them with sticks and then with machetes.… I was unconscious, and when I woke the house was fully on fire. It was when the fire was already burning my legs and my body that I came to. I broke through the wall, and my daughter was already outside. I tried to go back to get the bodies of my children, but they were already on fire so we had to leave them. –Mumtaz Begum, 30