The fast-flowing was the reason that it troubled the natives of Tula Toli. Winding near the remote town on three sides, the problematic waters tolerated Burmese soldiers to a corner and hold people on the river’s sandy banks. Some were killed on the spot and others suffocated in the current as they attempted to get away. Zahir Ahmed tried a terrified dash for the opposite bank, where he covered up in thick jungle and witnessed the last moments of his family. With his bloodshot eyes and stained shirt with sweat and dirt, he recalled in an interview a week after at a refugee camp in neighboring Bangladesh that “I was right next to the water”.
The teenagers and adults were shot with rifles, whereas babies and toddlers, including his six-year old daughter Hasina, were thrown into the water, said Ahmed. Ahmed said he cried as was witnessing his wife and children die in front of him. A Rohingya who managed to flee to Bangladesh said, “The soldiers used rocket-propelled grenades, and they set fire to the houses with matches. Once they had gone past, I went back. All the houses were burned. In the road, I saw a dead man I recognized called Abu Shama. He had been shot in the chest. He was 85.” It is believed that more than 160,000 of Myanmar’s 1.1 million ethnic Rohingya minorities have fled to Bangladesh. Amid interviews with more than a dozen Rohingya from Tula Tuli, the Guardian reported about what appeared to be disastrous carnage as Myanmar’s armed forces cleared through the town on 30 August and allegedly killed scores of individuals.
The villagers claimed that those who fled to the hills in the west to influence the three-day trek to Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh, while the rest were buried in a crowd grave. The Myanmar has blocked access to the area, where the majority of the people are Buddhist. A United Nations report that released this year talked what happened to with them who stayed. It also proclaimed mass killings and gang rapes by the armed forces in actions that “very likely” made crimes against humanity. The present scenario of violence is the worst so far, and the rights groups claimed that it would constitute a final campaign to free Myanmar of the Rohingya. The satellites, on the other hand, have also recorded the images of whole village getting burnt to the ground.
Here are stories of some:
Hossein said that three days before the massacre about 90 soldiers regulated the village’s some hundred residents to an area east of the settlement, a place famous among locals as “the sands” for its infertile ground. “Their leader had two stars on his shoulder. Rumours are being spread around by people in the village that soldiers have been killing people in Rakhine. But you should all keep farming and fishing. The one thing we ask is that if you see soldiers, you don’t run away. If you run, we will shoot,” he said. He added that “After the speech, the soldiers went from house to house. They were with [local Rakhine Buddhists] and took everything they could find that was valuable: gold, cash, clothes, potatoes, and rice. They smashed up houses of three or four people they said had been spreading rumors. They were looking for fighters. The Buddhists had told them about fighters, but there were none there”.
A survivor said that “I had a bag filled with oil, sugar, flour, 10,000 kyat, rice – things I had taken from the house when we left. When we got to the Naf river [the Bangladesh border], the Myanmar army started shooting”. According to Petam Ali, who sheltered some who were relocated in his house, more than 10 died in the river. Ali heard the voice of shooting at 3.30 am the very next day, but wasn’t enough share about it. “I live on the north side of the village and the army had crossed the river further north and was marching down. I left my family to run out to the jungle to try and spot the soldiers. We waited until 8 am and then they moved in, wearing dark green clothes. All of them were on foot.”
“I ran back to get my family, but we were too rushed and my grandmother was too old to run. From the forest, we watched them burn our house. It was the first in Tula Toli to be burned.” When Ali’s house was ruined, he signaled and beheaded corpse of his grandmother. “Her name was Rukeya Banu. She was 75. When I returned to the jungle, I described the whole incident to the rest. They burst into tears. We walked for three days.” Kabir Ahmed, whose eight family members died, said that two of his other sons who are unaccounted for. He said that “When I heard the army attacking to the north, I jumped into the river. My two sons came with me. They are 10 and 12. They threw the children into the river. My three-year-old granddaughter, Makarra, and Abul Fayez, my one-year-old grandson.”
“I was hiding on the south side of the river. They gathered everyone together and told them to walk away. Then they shot them. We were on hills, hiding behind trees. In the evening, they collected all the bodies on the river bank, dug into the sands and burned them. It happened 40 meters away from me, on the other side of the river. They are buried two to three meters from the riverside.” Kabir Ahmed’s brother, Zahir, was also down by the river but in another spot when the army reached there. “I waited in the jungle, listening to the military firing. I was right next to the water. My son had gone to save other members of the family,” he says but all were killed. He said that he starts counting on his fingers those who died and waited for five hours and then left.