The Associated Press released a report recently, confirming at least give mass graves filled with the bodies of Rohingya men, women and children. Many of the men were difficult to identify as their faces were either burned with acid or shot beyond recognition. According to multiple Rohingya Muslim sources at the massacres, the soldiers came with shovels to dig the graves and acid to burn the faces of the victims — clearly a planned act of violence.
In one village, teenagers and young adults were playing what AP describes as a “soccer-like game” (probably a popular game in Burma called takraw), when the soldiers came in and opened fire. Most of the players were killed. When massacres like this happen, people generally run to the four winds, carrying whatever they happened to have with them at the time. That means that, if they survive the initial onslaught, they have to survive the brutal jungle and navigate to safety on their own. Families and friends are separated and many die in the jungle, and many more die on their way to the refugee camps.
Reports say Buddhist villagers sympathetic to the military went through, cutting the throats of the injured and throwing kids and elderly into fires to finish them off. This is a common method of “mop-up” seen in the east, in Karen State, as well.
The villagers from these particular massacres have been trying to compile a list of those confirmed dead. Right now, that list stands at around 75, though estimates could go as high as 400.
The Burmese military continuously not only denies that they are responsible, they deny that the violence even happens. The only mass grave they have claimed responsibility for was earlier in January, when 10 bodies were uncovered. They had previously claimed to have been hunting down terrorists, and this has been the reasoning behind most every military push into Rakhine State.
Here are some of the quotes of the villagers that were at the massacre, reported by AP:
“People were screaming, crying, pleading for their lives, but the soldiers just shot continuously,” said a schoolteacher.
“It was a mixed-up jumble of corpses piled on top of each other,” the takraw player said in regards to the mass graves, “I felt such sorrow for them.”
“I couldn’t move … I thought I was dead. I began to forget why I was there, to forget that all around me people were dying,” one man said, after he was shot twice in the foot and had found a place to hide.
“There were so many bodies in so many different places … they couldn’t hide all the death,” said a man whose family owned the pond that the military used as one of the mass graves. He thinks he saw approximately 80 bodies dumped into the pond, and that around 150 were left dead on the ground.
One old man saw bodies stuffed into a latrine, and he said, “I tried to see more, but the stench was overwhelming and the soldiers were still at the school.”
The military and the Burmese/Myanmar government has claimed repatriation efforts, though many believe those claims to be hollow — especially as the violence continues.
Featured image: In this Jan. 14, 2018 photo, Rohingya Muslim refugee Mohammad Karim, 26, shows a mobile video of Gu Dar Pyin’s massacre inside his kiosk in Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh. On Sept. 9, a villager from Gu Dar Pyin, captured three videos of mass graves that were time-stamped between 10:12 a.m. and 10:14 a.m., when he said soldiers chased him away. When he fled to Bangladesh, Karim removed the memory card from his phone, wrapped it in plastic and tied it to his thigh to hide it from Myanmar police. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)