‘Buried my son sans shroud, funeral bath’

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Publication Date: 10 September, 2017
Media: The Independent 


Life could perhaps not have been more unbearable for Zakaria and Sanjida Begum. It has been barely two weeks since their 14-year-old eldest son succumbed to bullet and blast injuries at their home in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. They could not even give him a decent burial. Even as they fled to Bangladesh, they lost another son, aged around 11, while crossing the border. They reached Bangladesh on Wednesday via the Kanjarpara border point. They were still waiting at the point yesterday, looking for their missing son.

Zakaria, 40, and Sanjida, 35, are from Tangbazar of Maungdaw in Myanmar. “On August 25, the military and the local Buddhists attacked our neighbourhood. Saiful, our eldest son, was injured in the firing and bomb blasts at Naraynagsong area of our neighbourhood. Bullets pierced one of his knees, a shoulder, and abdomen. We took him to a doctor named Hossain Ahmed at East Tangbazar. He did not even take any money from us. Saiful was bleeding profusely. He only wanted to lie down with his head in his mother’s lap. So, we took him home. Crying in pain, he died with his head in his mother’s lap around 2 pm,” wept Zakaria.

The couple said that they could not even give Saiful a funeral bath and bury him with a shroud. “The military came to our home eight times and we had to flee every time. So, we could not even dig a grave for him. At last, four of us from the village covered my son with a blood-stained shirt and left him without a funeral bath,” wept Zakaria.

“In the evening, the military burned down our house,” he added. “When my son was brought to me, his entire body was blood-caked and he was bleeding profusely. He wanted to drink some water, but we could give him none. We were also fleeing for our lives. Before dying, he asked us to forgive him. He died in my arms,” said a grieving Sanjida.

The military killed some other relatives of the couple on the same day, the family alleged. Moreover, now the seven-member family does not know where to go. They have nothing to eat and nowhere to go.

In the recent “cleansing operation” in Rakhine state, around 300,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh while over 1,000 have been reportedly killed.###

Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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