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Rohingya: Unpeopled

Genocide survivours are invited back to their homeland

A long scar from a burn runs across Momtay Begum’s temple. She was beaten, raped and set on fire by Myanmar soldiers, who swept into her village of Tula Toli in Rakhine State in August 2017. Momtay made it out alive from what the UN later branded a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” After four days on the run, she and her only surviving daughter reached the border with Bangladesh.

They now live in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh along with nearly 700,000 Rohingya, who fled the massacres and violence the Myanmar military unleashed on the mainly Muslim ethnic minority. Many displaced Rohingya recount harrowing experiences that echo Montay's story.

However, the government continues to deny that massive slaughter even took place, claiming the troops targeted only Muslim insurgents, not civilians. Rakhine residents repeat the official narrative, saying Muslims burned their villages before fleeing and describing atrocities the Rohingya militants carried out.

Follow RTD's Natalia Karachkova, as she explores the roots of the Rohingya crisis. She goes to Cox’s Bazar, where Muslim refugees relay their stories of persecution and escape from the country they called home. Meanwhile, the Rakhine residents she meets on a government-escorted press tour share a different account of what happened.