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‘There Are No Homes Left’: Rohingya Tell of Rape, Fire and Death in Myanmar

Muhammad Shafiq, who is in his mid-20s, said he was at home with his family when he heard gunfire. Soldiers in camouflage banged on the door, then shot at it, he said. When he let them in, he said, “they took the women away, and lined up the men.”

Mr. Shafiq said that when a soldier grabbed his sister’s hand, he lunged at him, fearful the soldier intended to rape her, and was beaten so severely that the soldiers left him for dead. Later, he bolted with one of his children and was grazed by a soldier’s bullet on his elbow. He crawled for an hour on his hands and knees through a rice field, then watched, from a safe vantage point, as troops set fire to what remained of Kyet Yoepin.

“There are no homes left,” he said. “Everything is burned.”

Jannatul Mawa, 25, who is from the same village, said she crawled toward the next village overnight, passing the shadowy forms of dead and wounded neighbors.

“Some were shot, some were killed with a blade,” she said. “Wherever they could find people, they were killing them.”

Dozens more families are from Pwint Phyu Chaung, which was near the site of a clash between militants and soldiers on Nov. 12.

According to Amnesty International, the militants scattered into neighboring villages. When army troops followed them, several hundred men from Pwint Phyu Chaung resisted, using crude weapons like farm implements and knives, the report said. A Myanmar army lieutenant colonel was shot dead, and the troops called in air support from two attack helicopters.

Mumtaz Begum, 40, said she was awakened at dawn when security forces approached the village from both sides and began searching for adult men in each house.

She said she and her daughter were told to kneel down outside their home with their hands over their heads and were beaten with bamboo clubs.

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Mumtaz Begum, 40, told of members of her family who were arrested, beaten, shot in the leg or killed. Her daughter described being grouped with young women to be raped. Credit Ellen Barry/The New York Times

She said her 10-year-old son was shot through the leg, her daughter’s husband was arrested, and her own husband was one of dozens of men and boys in the village who were killed by soldiers armed with guns or machetes that night. Villagers, she said, “laid the bodies down in a line in the mosque and counted them.”

Ms. Begum’s daughter, Noor Ankis, 25, said the next morning soldiers went from house to house looking for young women.

“They grouped the women together and brought them to one place,” she said. “The ones they liked they raped. It was just the girls and the military, no one else was there.”

She said the idea of trying to escape flickered through her head, but she was overcome by fatalism. “I felt there was no point in being alive,” she said.

Ms. Ankis pulled her head scarf low, for a moment, removing a tear. She said she had been thinking about her husband.

“I think about how he took care of me after we got married,” she said. “How will I see him again?”

Sufayat Ullah, 20, a madrasa student, said that he was home with his family on the morning of the attack and that the first thing he registered was the sound of gunfire. He realized quickly, he said, that he could only survive by escaping. “When they found people close by, they attacked them with machetes,” he said. “If they were far away, they shot them.”

Mr. Ullah ran from the house and bolted for the creek at the edge of town, and he dived in, swimming as far as he could. He said he spent much of the next two days underwater, finally scrambling onto the bank near a neighboring village. Only then did he learn that his mother, father and two brothers had burned to death inside the family house.

“I feel no peace,” he said, covering his face with his hands and weeping. “They killed my father and mother. What is left for me in this world?”

Source: NYT > World

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