(Image: Sono Wara, a Rohingya in her village in Myanmar a day after the death of her newborn twins. CreditNicholas Kristof/The New York Times )
New York Times
Nicholas Kristof, Op-Ed Contributor
RAKHINE STATE, Myanmar — Sono Wara spent the day crying. And even after her tear ducts emptied, her shirt was still wet from leaking milk.
Her newborn twins had died the previous day, and she squatted in her grass-roof hut, shattered by pain and grief. She is 18 and this was her first pregnancy, but as a member of the Rohingya ethnic minority she could not get a doctor’s help. So after a difficult delivery, her twins lie buried in the ground.
Sometimes Myanmar uses guns and machetes for ethnic cleansing, and that’s how Sono Wara earlier lost her mother and sister. But it also kills more subtly and secretly by regularly denying medical care and blocking humanitarian aid to Rohingya, and that’s why her twins are gone.
Myanmar and its Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, are trying to make the Rohingya’s lives unlivable, while keeping out witnesses. Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in recent months, but the fate of those left behind has been less clear, for Myanmar mostly bans foreigners from Rohingya areas. The government fired a warning flare when it arrested two Reuters journalists for reporting on an army massacre of Rohingya; the reporters face up to 14 years in prison for committing superb journalism.
Entering Myanmar on a tourist visa, I was able to slip undetected into five Rohingya villages. What I found was a slow-motion genocide. The massacres and machete attacks of last August are over for now, but Rohingya remain confined to their villages — and to a huge concentration camp — and are systematically denied most education and medical care.