They fled for their lives. He didn’t survive
By Ray Sanchez, CNN Updated 1333 GMT (2133 HKT) September 15, 2017
This story contains graphic images of a dead infant. Viewer discretion is advised
(CNN)A young mother in a mustard-colored veil cradles the infant’s lifeless body as though she is rocking him to sleep. The haunting photograph captures the heart-wrenching story of the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims fleeing the ethnic violence in Myanmar.
Her name is Hanida Begum. Her people are often described as the most persecuted minority in the world. This is the moment she discovers the death of her infant son. One-month-old Abdul Masood died after the wooden boat delivering his family to Bangladesh capsized Thursday in the waist-deep water of the Bay of Bengal on Shah Puri Dwip island, close to shore.Begum presses her lips against Abdul’s. She cups his head. Rohingya Muslims around her are unable to comfort the grieving mother.
Begum and her family are among the staggering 370,000 people who have made the perilous journey to Bangladesh since August 25, according to the UN refugee agency. The sad end to their voyage was captured by an Associated Press photographer.
They are men, women and children — including the newborn, pregnant and elderly — escaping violent clashes in Rakhine State as the Myanmar military conducts “clearance operations,” which intensified after Rohingya militants attacked police border posts in late August.
There have been reports of violent attacks on Rohingya by the military, as well as rape, murder and arson, according to Human Rights Watch and other groups. The UN says the crisis has left at least 1,000 people dead.
Myanmar considers them illegal immigrants because their heritage is rooted in East Bengal, now called Bangladesh. But Bangladesh denies them civil and political rights, saying they’re Burmese.
Almost 90% of Myanmar’s population are Buddhists, according to government figures. The Rohingya have long been marginalized for their faith. Now they’re fleeing for their lives — an average of almost 20,000 a day.
Abdul’s parents were trying to save their children — and themselves — from what the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has called a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing.”
A striking image from the ill-fated journey undertaken by Abdul’s family shows his bearded father holding the baby’s body. Abdul’s little arm rests on his abdomen. He appears asleep.
Begum wails as she holds another child over her shoulder. Her hand supports the father’s hands as if to keep the Abdul from falling. The Rohingya crisis: How to help
Tags: They fled for their lives, He didn’t survive,Rohingya Muslims, Rohingya crisis