In September 2015, harrowing images showing the lifeless body of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Turkey shook the world. The picture became iconic, going some way to humanize the refugee crisis for Europeans fearing the waves of migrants arriving on their shores.
Now, in January 2017, another heart-wrenching picture has emerged depicting a strikingly similar child, drowned and lying, as if sleeping, face down in the sand.
The child in this picture is reportedly Mohammed Shohayet, a 16-month-old who belongs to Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority. He apparently drowned while attempting to reach Bangladesh in order to flee anti-Muslim violence in his home country.
Mohammed's mother, uncle and three-year-old brother also died after the overloaded boat they were on sank.
The boy's father, Zafor Alam, survived and is now in a refugee camp in Bangladesh.
"When I see the picture, I feel like I would rather die," he told CNN. "There is no point in me living in this world."
The picture and story, which have been widely used in multiple media outlets, cannot be independently verified.
In Rakhina State, where an estimated 1.3 million Rohingyas live, Muslims face discrimination and brutality at the hands of government forces. Buddhist-majority Myanmar considers members of the minority group to be "Bengali" immigrants, and has denied them citizenship since the 1980s.
A UN official recently accused the Burmese government of seeking “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya Muslims. Hundreds of homes have been burned by security forces over recent months, according to Amnesty International, and a shocking video purportedly showing police officers beating Rohingya villagers was shared widely last week.
The photograph of the infant has been shared widely on social media, as activists express their anger at the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya people:
"When I see the picture, I feel like I would rather die." Father of Rohingya child killed by Burmese military. Does anybody care? pic.twitter.com/u6JLhNfKJl— Akram Gizabi (@AGizabi) January 4, 2017
The International Organization for Migration reports that an estimated 34,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since a crackdown against them began in October. To do so they must cross waters which in 2015 were, according to the UN, “three times more deadly” than the Mediterranean.
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