“I do not want to die in the hands of the army. I would rather die in the hands of Bangladeshi Muslims. At least there will be someone to offer prayers at my janaza then,” the Rohingya refugee in Cox’s Bazar told the Dhaka Tribune.
“We have seen torture during the military regime of Myanmar, but it was not as horrific or ruthless as this one. The army came to villages out of nowhere and set houses on fire. They shot people trying to escape and tortured women.”
Safura comes from Kearipara village in Maungdaw, having travelled 45 kilometres on foot to come to Bangladesh, leaving behind everything she owned to the safety of Ukhia’s Kutupang unregistered refugee camp.
She recounted that it was a week ago that her troubles began. The army came in the afternoon and tortured her only daughter. They later ransacked everything in the house and set it on fire, she told reporters on Wednesday.
The army, before leaving the house, took two of her sons captive and they never returned.
Helpless, she decided to leave for Bangladesh like many others. She could not hold her tears back as she narrated the horrors of past week. She has come to Bangladesh with three sons and her only daughter. Her husband has passed away seven years ago.
Though Myanmar government did not grant her a citizenship, she said life was good there. But the horrific memory of the army brutally torturing her daughter still gives her nightmares. That is why they decided to come here to find safety.
Crossing the Naf River to enter Bangladesh was not easy either, said Safura. The boatman who helped them cross over asked for 12,000 Kyat (MMK) per person.
They were also caught by a local middlemen on the Bangladeshi side and they charged Tk1,000 per person to bring them to the Kutupang camp.
There are thousands of men and women just like Safura who have taken refuge at the Kutupang refugee camp in the past week. They bring with them eye witness accounts of the horrific torture inflicted by the Myanmar army.
Some of the other refugees – Kabir Ahmed, 35, Fazal Karim, 42, Shafiq Ahammad, 28, Abdur Rashid, 32, Semon Bahar, 20, Anowara Begum, 18, and Golbahar, 75 – said they were driven out because of their faith.
They said Muslims are being tortured and killed by the Myanmar government to the point where Rakhine state will soon have no Muslims in it.
They recounted how the army was killing young men by tying up their hand and feet and shooting them dead.
The Rakhine youth are also helping the army kill Muslim men, they said.
The Camp In-Charge of Kutupang, Arman Shakil, said there are 11,000 registered Rohingyas in the camp but the number of unregistered refugees is rising daily.
“It is the government’s job to control the number, not ours,” he said.
Speaking at a press meeting on the border situations at Tekanf on Friday, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) chief Maj Gen Abul Hossain said Rohingyas are still entering Bangladesh despite strict monitoring of the border and the middlemen who are helping them are mostly responsible for this.
“Security measures will be amplified to ensure that no more Rohingyas can enter Bangladesh,” he said.
BGB Chittagong Regional Commander Brig Gen Farid Hasan, BGB Cox’s Bazar Sector In-Charge Commander Col Anisur Rahman, BGB Teknaf 2 Battalion Commander Lt Col Abuzar Al Jahid were also present at the press meeting.
The BGB director general visited Cox’s Bazar to assess the border situation on Thursday, before going to Teknaf.