Burma Times Special Report: July 03, 2015
Military officers regularly visited their home in Cil Hali, Maungdaw North. They forced her father and uncle to work as porters. It was unnatural. Forced labour was very common in the village. But the frequency with which 55 year Abul Hossain was summoned for the job was mysterious.
Pretty soon it cleared up. Government collaborators came and told Hossain that the military wanted her daughter. Just for one night, they said. Hossain felt helpless. But he remained defiant.
It was the first days of June, 2012. In a few more days, Arakan went up in flames. The military men abandoned all formalities, came to Hossain’s house, and took his daughter to the camp. In the meantime soldiers kept everyone confined at gunpoint. The tormented cries of Hossain was heard by the entire village, but there was little others could do. As his cries got louder, soldiers began assaulting him brutally till he went unconscious.
In the aftermath of the riots, the family escaped the country and crossed the Bangladesh border at Shahparang. They ended up in Shaplapur where many other Rohingya refugees live.
A few days later, Hossain, now a broken man in every respect, died from wounds sustained in the army assault. Things looked bad for the family as there was little to eat. “My husband used to get work scarcely and the income was bad,” says Shomsida Begum, sister of the rape victim. It was in these circumstances that her husband Solim Ullah was convinced by a human trafficker to travel to Thailand.
“They said he could pay them over the years, after finding work in Malaysia,” says Shomsida.
This was not the case. Once in Thailand, traffickers tortured Solim and made the family hear his cries over phone. They demanded the standard 180,000 Bangladesh Taka, an impossible amount for the impoverished family. This continued for an year. Then the calls stopped around March this year.
Now Shomsida, her sister and their two children are begging for a living. Their uncle who escaped Arakan with them is the sole working member of the family.
“In our country, we were well off, there was enough to eat. But we left because we lost our honour. But here our children are starving,” says Shomsida.