Mumtaz Begum, 30. She fled to Bangladesh shortly after the Aug. 25 attack from Tula Toli village in Myanmar. She says that one night the military attacked her village and burned homes. Everyone ran and hid but the military found them. They shot her husband in front of her, and as he lay dying she told him, “I have lived many years with you, if I made any mistakes, please forgive me.”
The military took her and 5 other women to a house, with some of their children. They started raping her and the other women and when the children screamed, they hit them in the head with machetes. They hit one of her sons, splitting his skull open, and he died. They also hit her daughter, but she survived and escaped the house. When the military was done raping her and the other women, they lit the house on fire. Mumtaz crawled through the flames as her clothes caught fire and the roof caved in, and was the only woman who managed to escape. The other 5 women burned to death. She hid in the forest until a group of people found her and carried her to the border and into Bangladesh.
“I want justice and I want to tell the world all the things the military did,” she said. “They raped and killed us. We want justice.”
Minwara Begum, 17. One morning she was cooking when she heard shooting. Her mom went out to see what was happening and saw the military throwing petrol bombs on all the houses. “All of us started running and the military shot us in the back. They shot me, my mom, sister, sister in law, nephew, 2 of my brothers. I lost 6 members of my family. I just kept on running. The military found us where we were hiding and took me, my sister and cousin and other women to a house. They tied our eyes and legs and hands with a black cloth and started to rape me. I don’t know how many men raped me. There were 6 of us in the room and they killed 3 of the women. When they were finished they left the house and threw a petrol bomb on it. The whole house caught fire and I used the fire to burn the cloth off that was keeping my legs and hands tied.”
She says she hid in the paddy field and forest until a group of other people came through and helped her. She spent days walking with them to the Bangladesh border, where she took a boat across to Bangladesh. She spent a week in a hospital in Bangladesh until she recovered.
“Here in Bangladesh, I feel so restless and worried,” she said. “People say they’re going to send us back to Myanmar, and once again they’ll shoot and beat us there. I’m so worried.”
Roshida Begum, 22, shows where the Myanmar military slit her throat. One day the military came to her village and threw petrol bombs and set houses on fire. They randomly shot anyone they saw. She fled and hid on a riverbank, where the military found her and other people. Her husband swam across and escaped. They shot the young boys and stole the jewelry the women had. They took little children and babies and threw them into the river. Then they took us to a pond and made us kneel up to our necks in the water.”
She shows a head wound she received during the Aug. 25 attack. “My baby was 25 days old. They grabbed him from my arms and smashed him on the ground so hard, he died. The military took me and 5 other women into a house and raped us. After they were done, they slit our necks with machetes. They thought I was dead and they left and set the house on fire. I was the only one who escaped.”
She says she hid in a paddy field and in a forest until she came across another woman and her daughter, and together they crossed into Bangladesh. For 8 days they walked, surviving by drinking water from the paddy fields. They took a boat into Bangladesh and she went to the MSF clinic, where she spent 18 days recovering. Her husband found her there, and when she was discharged they moved into a camp. In the attack, she lost her mother, father, brother, all together she lost 17 members of her family.
Sunuara, 25. She says before the Aug. 25 attack, she had a good life in Myanmar. She was wealthy, she had 42 cows, 2 cars, and rice paddy fields. One day the military attacked her village and soldiers came to her home. Her husband was staying in another village with relatives and her other children were staying with her parents. Only her 16-year-old son was home with her, and in front of her eyes the military shot him in the stomach and then cut off his head with a machete. Then they tied her wrists and ankles with rope to her bedposts and 9 men took turns raping her for 6 hours.
She was 8 months pregnant at the time, and the military punched and kicked her stomach. She lost consciousness and when she woke up, her husband and brother found her. For 6 days they carried her to the border while she drifted in and out of consciousness. They crossed into Bangladesh where she gave birth at a hospital, but the baby died a day later.
Dildar Begum, 30. She says that one day the military came and opened fired on her village and stormed into her house. They took her husband out of the house and to the riverbank and shot him. Then they came back into her house and grabbed her baby from her arms and stabbed him in the head
They killed another one of her children by cutting his throat, and another by beating her over the head with a rifle. Two soldiers held her arms while another raped her. They then beat her and she pretended to be dead. When they left, they set her house on fire. Her 10 year old daughter, Nurkalima, was severely injured when the military beat her over the head with the blades of machetes, but she helped her mom crawl past the burning bodies of her children and out of the burning house.
For 5 days she hid in the hills and when the military left, she went back to Tula Toli on her way to the Bangladesh border. All that was left of her village was smoke and ask where houses used to be. There were bodies everywhere, so many that they were uncountable. She came across some men who carried her for two days to the border, where they were able to cross into Bangladesh by boat. “I don’t see any future for me here in Bangladesh. My husband is dead, who will earn money for me and my daughter? I want justice. My kids were killed, I want justice for them,” she says.