After they finished burning the bodies, the soldiers ordered chicken curry.
Nazmul Islam watched as local Buddhists set about preparing food for the men he says raped and massacred scores of Rohingya Muslims from the village of Tula Toli in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine state.By late afternoon it was quiet. The smell of burning hung over the village. An officer barked, “We need 100 plates of rice and chicken curry. Bring it to us.”
The soldiers’ savagery appalled but did not shock Islam, the 60-year-old assistant village chairman. He used to be one of them.
A former soldier and Buddhist who became a Muslim after falling in love with a Rohingya woman, Islam is an unusual sight in the sprawling Bangladeshi refugee camps now home to close to one million people.
While his wife and their five children fled Myanmar alongside their neighbours, Islam says he was detained for weeks in the Rakhine part of the village where officers tried to convert him back to Buddhism. Taken there before the violence, he says he witnessed the orchestration of a slaughter first reported last year by the Guardian.
“Ufffft. I saw everything,” says Islam, who is thin with sinewy, tattooed arms. “I couldn’t do anything but sit and look.”