The suffering and persecution of the Rohingya people have intensified since I wrote this piece about their situation, with violent attacks taking place between 20 and 22 March in which 40 people are estimated to have been killed. Allegedly the Burmese police did not intervene to help the victims, and in some instances even joined in the attacks. I’ve just read this powerful piece by Assed Baig.
Abdul is mute. This is his first time drawing and he is eleven. His drawings are detailed. They show death, houses burning, soldiers, monks and local Rakhine carrying weapons. All the drawings are similar; they all show things that children should not be subjected to.
The children’s accounts are vivid and graphic. They all say they saw people hacked into pieces. In one drawing Hussain draws a stick man, with his heads, arms and legs separated, he says he saw someone chopped to pieces. There are bodies in red water.
“I saw dead people in the water, I saw Rakhine stab them whilst they were trying to swim.”That’s why the colour of the water is red.
All of the children are still scared, they have been dispelled with deadly force out of their village, and their homes burnt to the ground, all of them told me that they suffer from nightmares. Even in their sleep they cannot escape the horror of what took place. Of how the military, monks and civilians slaughtered Rohingya and drove them out, now forced to live in IDP camps, cut off from the rest of the world. They are not allowed to leave the area. The Rakhine on the other hand have no such restrictions.
He doesn’t smile. Sharp face and defined features, his eyes are striking, they are painful to look into, wise beyond their years and have seen things that no human being should have to see. He explains how they ran from the sword wielding Monks.
“A boat was set on fire. People jumped into the river and tried swimming. The Rakhine came on boats and stabbed people with their spears as they tried swimming away.”There was one disturbing story that a number of the children drew and explained to me. A mentally ill child, was killed, he was beheaded.
“Did you see it with your own eyes?” I ask. “Yes,” they all reply.
You can read the rest here. And here is an interesting article about why there has been comparatively little media coverage of these developments which makes mention, among other points, of what it describes as the ‘cowardly silence’ of Aung San Suu Kyi.