Horrors they will never forget
12:00 AM, November 18, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:33 AM, November 18, 2017

Horrors they will never forget

Children in Rakhine faced grave violations, killings, rape, says Save the Children report

Running away from his burning village in Rakhine State to come to Bangladesh, 12-year-old Hasan walked into an abandoned village to look for food and water. As he found a water reservoir and got closer, he saw about 50 bodies floating.

“I can't forget the smell of the burning houses, or the sight of the bloated bodies. These are horrors I will never forget,” he told researchers from Save the Children.

The researchers pointed out that the story was not unique and Rohingya children, who have fled to Bangladesh, gave similar accounts of the appalling violence they witnessed in Myanmar.

The international NGO yesterday published “Horrors I Will Never Forget”, a report containing testimonies of Rohingya children in Cox's Bazar.

“The stories tell of children killed and maimed by the Myanmar military. Stories of children burned alive in their homes. Stories of girls being raped and abused,” Helle Thorning-Schmidt, chief executive of Save the Children, wrote in the foreword of the report.

The ongoing persecution of Rohingyas has displaced hundreds of thousands in Rakhine State. Over 620,000 people have arrived in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar in the last three months.

The Save the Children report said those who fled Myanmar spoke of seeing children targeted for brutal sexual violence, killed and maimed indiscriminately and abducted.

"These appalling crimes amount to grave violations against children in conflict. They must stop and those carrying them out must be held accountable," it said.

Around 60 percent of the Rohingyas, who came to Cox's Bazar since August 25, are children, and almost each of them witnessed a family member or someone from their community killed, it observed.

"They have seen and experienced things that no child should ever see."

Shadibabiran, a 16-year-old girl cited in the report, said military went to their village and started shooting. Her mother was shot in the ankle.

“They hit me in the face with a gun, kicked me in my chest and stamped on my arms and legs. Then I was raped by three soldiers. They raped me for about two hours and at some stage I fainted.

“They broke one of my ribs when they kicked me in the chest. It was very painful and I could hardly breathe. I still have difficulty breathing, but I haven't been to a doctor, as I feel too ashamed,” she told Save the Children, which changed the real names of the victims to protect their identities. 

In recent weeks, several human rights watchdogs have accused Myanmar military of genocide and widespread sexual violence.

“These children, who have endured so much suffering, were desperate with no place to go,” said Save the Children Bangladesh Country Director Mark Pierce, urging the authorities to act.

He also demanded Myanmar to identify perpetrators of the crimes and bring them to justice or accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

"If Myanmar government fails to take credible and timely steps to investigate the crimes...and end impunity, the UN Security Council must act and refer the situation to the ICC," the report concluded.

It also asked the international community to ensure all Rohingya children, who fled to Bangladesh, receive adequate care and support to recover from trauma.

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