Rajuma* is only 30 years old, but has endured the most unimaginable horrors. The ethnic Rohingya woman from Myanmar was a survivor of a brutal massacre that occurred in her village, Tula Toli on August 30, 2017. According to various eyewitness accounts, about 300 people were killed, many of them women and children. Rajuma lost everyone in her family, except one of her five children. The pair managed to escape to Bangladesh, where over 650,000 other Rohingya people have fled since August 2017.
“The 30th of August is the worst day of my life,” says Rajuma. “It began in the early morning. The armed men came to the village, and they blocked the exits. They first told us that nothing would happen to us. Now I know that was a lie.” The attackers forced the villagers to assemble in the village square, and began to plunder their houses, before finally setting them on fire.
Left to die in a burning hut
Afraid, Rajuma and her family remained in their huts, but safety was not guaranteed there. The men forced their way into their home, shot her husband right before her eyes, then proceeded to kill four of her children – three daughters aged two, five and seven, and an eleven-year old son. Only one of her daughters was able to escape.
After murdering her family members, the attackers set her home on fire, and left her to die inside. Still in shock and afraid, she stayed in the burning house until she was sure that the men were gone. Only then did she venture out of the hut. By this time, half of her body was in flames. With severe burns and her very last strength, she made it to a nearby pond where was saved by a neighbor. Rajuma and her daughter hid themselves in a rice field for four long days before fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.
Fleeing to Bangladesh
Her village was utterly destroyed. Harrowing reports from survivors reveal how husband, wives and children were forcefully separated, they tell of brutal executions of men and children– some burnt alive and some others shot dead. Many women were raped several times, and then killed.
Upon her arrival in Bangladesh, Rajuma was treated of her severe burns in a hospital. Her injuries have taken about three months to heal, and have left deep scars on her body. However, the brutal loss of her family leaves indelible marks on her soul. Although she escaped with her life, Rajuma remains severely traumatized, and is regularly haunted by the horrifying memories of her loss.
Support for the Rohingya in Bangladesh
Together, we can help women like Rajuma find their way back to regular daily life despite the cruel fate they have suffered.
Donate and support Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
*Names have been changed