Il corpicino riverso, la faccia affondata nel fango. Il cadavere di un bimbo giace lungo la sponda del fiume NafÈ morto affogato con il fratellino e la madre. Mohammed Shohayet, 16 mesi, stava scappando dal pogrom di cui il suo popolo, i Rohingya, è vittima in Birmania.
La barca su cui viaggiava verso il Bangladesh è affondata lo scorso dicembre, mentre i soldati sparavano sui fuggitivi.
L’immagine choc riporta la mente all’estate del 2015. Turchia, spiaggia di Bodrum. Una giornalista fotografa un bimbo senza vita sul bagnasciuga, le braccia stese dalla risacca. La posizione di Aylan Kurdi, tre anni, è la stessa di Mohammed. Anche lui è morto insieme al fratellino e alla madre, scappati dalla Siria inseguendo il sogno europeo. Solo il padre sopravvive. Come nel caso di Mohammed: «La mia vita non ha più senso. Preferirei essere morto», ha detto alla Cnn dal campo profughi del Bangladesh dove si trova.
Differenti le cause della fuga, identico l’epilogo: Mohammed e Aylan sono legati da un tragico filo. L’immagine del piccolo Rohingya è stata pubblicata dalla Cnn, con il titolo: «Il mondo si indignerà anche ora?». Il riferimento è proprio ad Aylan. In quel caso l’immagine si trasformò in un atto d’accusa contro la politica dei muri. Inchiodò il mondo alle sue responsabilità, rompendo il muro dell’indifferenza. E diventò il simbolo della crisi dei migranti.
In Birmania la tragedia dimenticata dei Rohingya dura dal secolo scorso. La minoranza di fede musulmana - circa un milione in un Paese dove il 90% della popolazione è buddista - vive principalmente nello stato di Rakhine, nel nordovest. La maggioranza dei birmani li considera immigrati dal Bangladesh che si sono stabiliti illegalmente.
Il governo nega loro la cittadinanza e il voto e li ha esclusi dalla lista dei 135 gruppi etnici del Paese. Non hanno nessun diritto, nemmeno quello di essere chiamati con il loro nome. Una circolare del ministero dell’informazione ha vietato ai funzionari di utilizzare il termine Rohingya, imponendo la definizione «popolazioni di origine islamica». Quasi 150 mila di loro vivono in squallidi campi-ghetto, da cui possono uscire solo con il permesso, accordato di rado, delle autorità.
La tragedia dei Rohingya inizia nel 1970, data del primo grande esodo: 250 mila persone fuggono dalla persecuzione dell’esercito. Negli ultimi anni la repressione si è intensificata, obbligando migliaia di disperati a cercare rifugio nei Paesi vicini: Bangladesh, Thailandia, Malaysia. Spesso la traversata si rivela mortale. Secondo l’Oim, l’agenzia Onu per le migrazioni, negli ultimi mesi 34 mila Rohingya sono fuggiti in Bangladesh attraverso il fiume in cui è morto Mohammed. Nell’ottobre scorso è iniziata un’offensiva militare con rastrellamenti arbitrari. Il bilancio è di 86 morti e 27 mila fuggiti.
L’accesso allo Stato di Rakhine è vietato a giornalisti e attivisti. Ma nei giorni scorsi Human Rights Watch ha diffuso foto satellitari in cui si vedono interi villaggi bruciati e centinaia di case abbandonate. In una di quelle viveva la famiglia di Mohammed. «I soldati sparavano dagli elicotteri sulle case. I miei nonni sono morti bruciati vivi. Noi siamo scappati e ci siamo nascosti nella giungla per giorni. Dovevamo cambiare posto perché i soldati cercavano i Rohingya», ha raccontato il padre, Zafor Alam. Una storia che il governo ha bollato come «montatura».
Ma il massacro dei Rohingya continua nel silenzio colpevole di Aung San Suu Kyi. La presidente, che ha dedicato la sua vita alla lotta per i diritti umani, ha finora voltato la testa dall’altra parte, ignorando quella che l’Unhcr ha definito «pulizia etnica». Nei giorni scorsi 23 leader mondiali, tra cui diversi Nobel per la Pace, hanno inviato una lettera all’Onu per costringerla a riconoscere gli abusi in atto e garantire i «pieni diritti di cittadinanza» ai Rohingya.
Mohammed Shohayet, 16 mesi, perde la vita durante la fuga verso il Bangladesh. La sua minoranza di religione musulmana vittima di un massacro dimenticato 05/01/2017 FILIPPO FEMIA
One in three women interviewed by BenarNews this week in Bangladesh’s refugee camps for Rohingya Muslims who fled violence in Myanmar claimed they were raped by security forces before their escape.
A correspondent for BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, who spent four days visiting the camps in southeastern Cox’s Bazar district, reported that 17 of the 54 Rohingya women she interviewed said they were raped while Myanmar’s military launched a brutal crackdown in northern Rakhine state after nine police officers were attacked and killed by an armed Rohingya insurgent group in October.
Numerous reports of rape and other atrocities had emerged since the post-attack crackdown, which led to some 65,000 Rohingya entering Bangladesh, but this is the first time that numbers were cited based on random surveys of the extent of sexual assaults on women.
Refugees who spoke to BenarNews also described a wide range of other abuses, including torching of their homes and animals, beatings, and killings of loved ones.
The perpetrators, often operating at night, were members of the military or the Nadala, a uniformed paramilitary force, they said.
Setara Begum, 24, a refugee in Kutupalong camp, said security forces snatched her one night as she was eating dinner in Naisapro village, in Maungdaw district, and took her to some nearby hills where she and some other local women were “tortured by turns.”
“Failing to bear the barbaric torture, two women died there. I somehow managed to flee after being raped,” she told BenarNews.
“They stripped me, beat my breasts and body; then they did whatever they desired,” she said.
Her husband rescued her hours later. By that time, the security forces had burned their home, according to Begum. They hid in the hills for several days.
“I could not eat rice for 10 days; my three children survived eating leaves. Coming to Bangladesh, they can eat here,” said Begum, who crossed the border on Jan. 13.
‘Crude denial games’
Myanmar has come under international fire over the alleged mistreatment of the ethnic minority. Representatives of 57 Muslim nations held an extraordinary meeting in Kuala Lumpur to focus on the humanitarian crisis gripping the Rohingya Muslim community.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak warned that Islamic extremists could use the plight of the Rohingya, who are considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh by Myanmar’s Buddhist-majority population, as a way to radicalize the minority group, which is denied basic rights.
A commission appointed by the government of Myanmar has rejected accusations that its military was committing genocide in Rakhine villages, which have been closed to Western journalists and human rights investigators.
But earlier this month, in a rare official acknowledgment of the security forces’ abuses, several police officers were detained over a video that appeared to show policemen beating Rohingya during a security operation.
The U.N. human rights envoy to Myanmar Yanghee Lee met privately in Naypyidaw Wednesday with de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss the violence in Rakhine state and reports of security forces committing the atrocities.
“Aung San Suu Kyi and her government apparently lack the political will to confront its security forces about their actions,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), calling for an independent, international investigation of the allegations of rights abuses in Rakhine.
HRW’s own investigations have uncovered that numerous women have suffered rape and sexual violence at the hands of the security forces, “yet the government continues its crude denial games rather than seriously investigating these grave rights abuses,” Robertson told BenarNews.
The 17 women who were said they were raped ranged in age from 16 to 31. They gave their full names to BenarNews.
‘They pushed me with guns’
Nur Jahan, 31, another refugee who spoke to BenarNews, said she was raped three weeks after soldiers took her husband from their home. He remains missing.
“On December 14 last year, two [military personnel] tightly caught me and the other raped me; thus all of the three violated me inside my room. I got unconscious; I do not know whether more people raped me,” said Jahan, from Naisapro Noarbil village in Maungdaw.
She said she reported her ordeal to a local leader when he visited the village; after he left, the military encircled her house. She went into hiding and fled to Bangladesh, where she said she received medical treatment.
“My body got swollen due to their torture. I was admitted to the hospital as I could not bear the pain,” she said.
Senoara Begum, 19, living in the Leda refugee camp, said she was heavily pregnant when she was raped. She cradled her baby, born after she arrived in Bangladesh, as she spoke.
“They pushed me with guns. I was pregnant for eight months at the time but they did not spare me, and bit my cheek,” she said. A human bite mark was visible on the left side of her face.
“They held [my husband] and took him away. Then they took me away to a room and raped me,” she said.
Many rape victims: UN worker
Officials and workers at non-governmental organization said it was difficult to track large numbers of new arrivals at the camps, but confirmed large numbers of rape reports.
“Generally it is true that raped women are coming every day. A lot of the raped women also don’t disclose rape issues, because of shame. But I can say the number of rapes is really huge,” Tayeb Ali, leader of the Kutupalong unregistered Rohingya camp, told BenarNews.
“Every day, new Rohingya are taking shelters in almost each of the houses of this unregistered Rohingya camp. Out of them, the number of raped women is huge. Along with old Rohingya, we are providing primary treatment to new Rohingya too,” said Samira Akter, with the medical NGO Bangladesh German Shompreeti (BGS) at Leda camp.
Prior to the influx of Rohingya following the recent violence, about 35,000 refugees lived in two UN-registered refugee camps and 300,000 more in vast unregistered settlements immediately adjacent, where homes are constructed of bamboo and plastic and roughly 5,000 people have access to a single water source and latrine, as witnessed by a BenarNews correspondent.
“The number of new Rohingya only in this camp is more than thirty thousand. Out of them, a lot of women are rape victims. The nature of the torture on them is very cruel,” a worker with the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) in Noyapara Rohingya Camp told BenarNews on condition of anonymity. “There are also incidents of abortions and miscarriages due to the rape of pregnant women.”
Reported by Jesmin Papri from Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, for BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.
Devastating cruelty against Rohingya children, women and men detailed in UN human rights report GENEVA (3 February 2017)
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