BANGKOK — September 6, 2017: Ko Mratt, a Rohingya from Myanmar, has related to researchers that he lost almost his entire family in a killing spree allegedly committed by Myanmar soldiers last year.
The former resident of Maungdaw township said he lost his younger sister who was then delivering a child, another younger sister who was seven months pregnant, his four-year-old son and a five-year-old nephew.
They were all shot to death, he said to researchers from the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) which has released a report titled Persecution of Muslims in Burma.
Ko said he also saw his 70-year-old mother murdered, wife shot and their house burned down.
Shortly after the harrowing incident, he and his badly injured wife fled to Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh where he managed to get a doctor to treat the gunshot wound of his wife.
The report draws on more than 350 interviews over eight months from March 2016, with testimonies collected from individuals in more than 46 towns and villages in Myanmar.
The report, which was released yesterday by its founder and executive director Kyaw Win here, details compelling evidence on what it said is the ongoing systematic persecution, which is not restricted to the Rohingya but encompassed other Muslims in Myanmar as well.
The report was released as another killing spree allegedly erupted in Rakhine State which, according to international aid organisations, has claimed hundreds of lives including of women and children.
The violence, which has been blamed on the Tatmadaw or Myanmar military, has also forced more than 100,000 Rohingya to flee their homes.
The 100-page report also recounts the experience of another Rohingya man, Ye Thu, also from the Maungdaw township, who was caught in the violence along with his three brothers and two children and had to flee.
He said that one morning in November their village came under fire from helicopter gunships and an unknown ground-level source. The next morning, he saw a large deployment of soldiers approaching the village and fled to nearby bushes.
From his hideout, he saw the Tatmadaws torching almost all the 450 homes in the village, at times using rocket-propelled weapons with incendiary device.
He also claimed to have witnessed soldiers arresting and killing villagers, among them his nephew, cousin and daughter-in-law.
Besides documenting testimonies detailing the human cost, BHRN also recorded multiple instances in which Muslims of all ethnicity were refused identity cards.
Muslims, according to the organisation, faced a multitude of problems when applying for the ID, including a flat-out denial and the need to furnish an extensive and difficult-to-obtain documentation on family lineage dating back to before 1824.
The authorities, it said, has also persistently blocked the rebuilding of mosques and madrasah that had been damaged, destroyed or sealed.
It claimed that five years after violence broke out between extremist Buddhists and Muslims in western Myanmar, conditions for Muslims, including non-Rohingya, throughout the country have worsened. — Bernama