Rabat – Following the Myanmar’s horrific incidents, France Press Agency (AFP) interviewed several Rohingya Muslims who managed to flee to Bangladesh. However, their sides of the story were scarier than those covered by international media.
On August 25, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) unleashed a wave of repression against nearly 300,000 members of the Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority, out of the total population of approximately one million.
“They were burning the houses. We ran away in order to save ourselves,” Master Kamal, a 53-year old teacher told AFP. Kamal added that he was there when three of his neighbors were killed by the ARSA.
The Rohingya, a Muslim minority in western Burma, have accused the Burmese army and extremist Buddhists of being in charge of the violence committed against them.
The Rohingya testimonies, however, are difficult to verify due to the restricted access to the Rakhine state, added AFP.
For its part, the Burmese government accuses the Rohingya rebels of committing atrocities, including burning their own villages. The UN, however, raises questions about the accuracy of this charge. The Burmese executive also said that the Muslim minority killed people suspected of collaborating with the ARSA.
Mohammad Amin, another interviewee, said his family had lived in Aung Sit Pyin village in Rakhine state for three generations.
“This is the first time we have fled, and I have never seen such violence,” said the 60-year old witness.
He continued that when the shooting broke out, he ran into the jungle, crossing a river to escape the soldiers who were hunting the Rohingya. “On the other side of the river, I noticed that everything was burning,” he explained.
During the clash, about 400 people were killed, according to government figures. The UN, however, said that this number is underestimated; adding that the accurate figure is about 87,000.
Most of the Aung Sit Pyin refugees stated that they saw people being killed by machetes blows or burned during their frantic escape.
A woman under the name Anwara told AFP that she dived into a river with her 4-year old son to escape the fire of the soldiers.
She told AFP that she thought she would never meet their other five children again. Her kids had sought refuge in the neighboring hills, and were over flown to her by helicopters.
However, her children aged between five and 14 have managed to reach their family and now they are reunited in Bangladesh, added AFP.
The same source added that nearly 100 people drowned trying to cross the Naf River, marking the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar, while others managed to cross the river with bullet injuries.
Jamal Hussain, a 12-year Rohingya said that his five brothers were killed by a machine gun as they were fleeing Aung Sit Pyin. He added that he could not find his parents or his seven other sisters.
“We were all together and all of a sudden they started firing… I could not look back because I thought I was going to die.”