Hasina is a soft-spoken 20-year-old Rohingya woman from Rakhine State in Burma. She asked us to use her picture and tell her story so the world knows what is happening there.
Her village, Tula Toli, was attacked in late August by the Burmese army on a rampage of killing and arson after Rohingya militants carried out coordinated strikes on police posts. The villagers ran when the soldiers came, but some were trapped on a river bank. Dozens, Hasina said, were murdered on the beach in front of her eyes, but the nightmare was only beginning.
The army forced Hasina and many other women to stand waist-deep in water and watch while soldiers dug a pit to burn the bodies of those they had killed. She tried to hide her infant daughter under her shawl, but a soldier noticed the baby, snatched her away, and tossed her into the fire.
Hours later the soldiers took Hasina, her mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and three other relatives, all children, to a nearby house. The soldiers tried to rape the women, knifing the mother-in-law to death when she resisted and beating Hasina and her sister-in-law unconscious. They beat the young children to death with spades.
When Hasina regained consciousness, she found herself inside the house. It was on fire, and she had been left locked inside by the soldiers. Her sister-in-law was alive, too. They managed to escape the flames, but with serious burns. Badly injured, they somehow made their way to Bangladesh. Both still have burn injuries. Hasina’s sister-in-law, who confirmed this horrible incident, showed us a big gash on the back of her head from when she had been beaten unconscious, and that a doctor had stitched.
Hasina insisted we take her picture and show her face to the world. For her, it is a brave act of defiance to those who sought to eliminate her and her family.