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Displaced Rakhine Muslim women share their shocking stories

Rohingya women reveal the horrors -- reprisals, rape and burning people and houses.

January 13, 2017

Bangladesh mounts pressure on Myanmar to take back their nationals

Keeping themselves confined to a tiny room with no light inside, two young Rakhine Muslim women were struggling to get rid of the trauma and forget the brutality they had gone through.

They remained speechless for minutes seeing the presence of a newsman at Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia. Later, they revealed the horrors -- reprisals, rape and burning people and houses.

"We're asked to get undressed and look up at the sun...we were left naked and with no food and water before being gang-raped (by Myanmar forces)," Hosne Ara (not her real name), a 25-year-old Myanmar national, told UNB narrating the horrible torture perpetrated on her and her relatives.

Hosne Ara, hailing from Kyari Parang village from Myanmar side, said her husband Sona Miah and her son Ibrahim got confined to their house when Myanmar forces put their house on fire.

"I was caught by several soldiers. The soldiers had previously gathered women of the village and took all of them to nearby paddy fields where they were all raped one after another," she recalled avoiding the eye contact.

Nur Sufia, another 20-year-old woman, sitting beside Hosne Ara, was also sharing a similar sad story.

"On December 10, soldiers came to my house and burned it down. I managed to escape with my two kids -- Mohammed Selim, 4, and 18-month-old Noor Kayes," Sufia told UNB.

She said four soldiers caught her and raped her before shooting the kids in their heads. "My husband and two brothers were burned in the fire."

Though a commission probing violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State denied security forces had abused Rohingya, anyone can see totally a different picture while talking to the new arrivals from Myanmar here in Bangladesh.

Around 65,000 people fled Myanmar and entered Bangladesh since October 9 last and the influx is still on, according to officials at the Foreign Ministry.

Nur Mohammad, who arrived in Bangladesh 20 years back from Myanmar, told UNB that people are still crossing the border secretly and taking shelter in Bangladesh.

"Those who arrived here are unwilling to go back to Myanmar fearing further attacks. The international community needs to put genuine pressure on Myanmar so that peace and stability are restored in Rakhine State," he said.

It is very difficult to digest the stories being unfolded from the victims who took shelter in Bangladesh side, Nur added.

Arafat Ara, another victim, said the Na'f River has lot of stories to tell. "Through this river, I have been able to arrive here. Journeys of many people to Bangladesh for shelter ended halfway," said the 25-year-old Rakhine Muslim woman who took a boat journey through the Na'f river with her five children.

Describing tortures on Rohingya people by Myanmar forces, Dudu Miah, a community leader in Leda unregistered refugee camp, told UNB that the United Nations needs to deploy peacekeepers there to restore peace.

"We had full support for Aung San Suu Kyi in the past. Now she is not talking about Muslims. We've no hope right now," he said adding that Rohingya people will get back to their homeland if their rights are protected.

Bangladesh has already clearly conveyed Myanmar side to take back all Myanmar nationals -- documented, undocumented and new arrivals - as soon as possible.

Bangladesh has also proposed a coordinated and holistic approach to stop marginalisation of Rakhine Muslims, restore peace and stability in Rakhine State ensuring their livelihoods so that Myanmar nationals living in Bangladesh feel encouraged to return home.

As part of mounting international pressure on Myanmar, the member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will come together in Kuala Lumpur on January 19 to discuss possible remedies to the situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.

This is going to be an 'extraordinary' meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers where Bangladesh will place its position on overall situation apart from the latest developments on the Rohingya issue.

Myanmar's special envoy and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Kyaw Tin who arrived here on Tuesday evening, discussed bilateral issues with special focus on Rohingya crisis during his meetings with Bangladesh.

Sharing the outcomes of the meetings, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on Thursday said Bangladesh is 'quite evidently' heading towards the next step to have a permanent solution to Rohingya issue. "Surely, they'll have to take back their (Myanmar) nationals (documented, undocumented and new arrivals)."

Bangladesh has also proposed forming a proper body to verify the citizenship of Myanmar nationals and Rakhine Muslims who took shelter here.

Both Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to quickly sign two under-discussion MoUs on security dialogue and cooperation; and border liaison office to boost security cooperation between the two countries.

Bangladesh thinks Chittagong and Cox's Bazar are extremely important and tourism development activities and stability are being hampered there due to recent arrivals from Myanmar and over 3 lakh undocumented Myanmar nationals.

Bangladesh also placed a demand for bringing back normalcy in Rakhine State so that Myanmar nationals staying in Bangladesh can go back to their home safely and with dignitary.

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