A Christian Rohingya girl was reportedly forced to convert to Islam and marry after her family was kidnapped in a Bangladeshi refugee camp.
The kidnapping occurred one day after a “machete-wielding” mob laid siege to the beleaguered Christian minority community residing in Kutupalong refugee camp on Jan. 27, a witness and attack survivor told AsiaNews.
“[The family] was kidnapped for [their] faith. We are persecuted because we are Christians,” said Saiful Islam Peter, a Rohingya Christian refugee who is currently in hospital recovering from the injuries he sustained during the attack.
Saiful said the kidnapped family members included the 55-year-old father Taher; his wife, Kurshida, 32; and his daughters Mizan, 14, and Mariam, 8.
Saiful said that on Feb. 2, a Muslim neighbor informed him that Mizan had been “forced to marry an Islamic extremist who lives near Nowkar camp, while there is no news of the rest of the family.”
On Jan. 28, the Christian aid agency Barnabas Fund reported that 12 people had been “seriously injured” after a hundred-person strong “extremist mob” attacked the “vulnerable” Christian community in the refugee camp, which is located in the Cox’s Bazar district.
One person, according to that account, “went missing in the onslaught and was presumed dead at the time of writing.”
Knife and acid attacks, as well as arson was also reported, with one man reportedly receiving head injuries when the mob hurled stones at a church. That church was reportedly ransacked, along with the victims’ homes.
Ration cards, computers, and other items were also stolen.
Saiful claims there were at least 200 assailants (and up to 400) from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya insurgent group, “carrying guns, knives, swords, and iron bars.”
He said he was assaulted while filming arson attacks against Christian homes, and was subsequently indicted by police for documenting the crimes.
Saiful said that sexual assault was perpetuated against both girls and women, while they were also “beaten terribly.”
Saiful added that they had documentary evidence proving the existence of ARSA militants in the camps.
“We have photos showing militant leaders carrying guns and knives. Many Rohingya Muslims detest them and I am sure they would be ready to testify that the members of ARSA are there,” he said.
The Jan. 27 attack came several days after the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee warned that Rohingya Christians were in “a most difficult position,” as they were both persecuted for their religion by the Myanmar government in Rakhine, and now “face hostility and violence from a small number of other camp residents.”