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News > Science and Tech

Rohingya Crisis Comes to Life in Virtual Reality Documentary

  • "Some women recounted how soldiers drowned babies in the village well," said U.N. envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 December 2017

The film draws its audience in as refugees recount their stories of suffering and hardship.

Rohingya men and women tell their stories in the newly-released virtual reality documentary, "Forced to Flee," bringing their harrowing experiences to life in a call for international intervention.

Rohingya Women Fleeing Military Crackdown Being Sold as Sex Slaves in Bangladesh

Investigative reporters from Al Jazeera, Amnesty International and Contrast VR entered their camps, combining satellite imagery and aerial footage from drones with the heartbreaking stories of families torn apart since Myanmar military forces first launched their attacks in August.

"The sheer scale, speed and intensity of the Myanmar security forces' crimes against humanity targeting the Rohingya are mind-boggling,” Tirana Hassan, a crisis response director at Amnesty International, told Al Jazeera.

“From massacres to mass rapes to entire villages being burnt to the ground, it is hard to truly grasp the horror that sparked well over half a million people to flee to Bangladesh in the space of three months."

The film draws its audience in as refugees recount the forced evacuations, the fallen family members and the countless crimes that drove more than 620,000 Rohingya from their flaming homes in what the U.N. describes as an "ethnic cleansing."

“They are saying that Myanmar is their country, not ours. They burnt my house, killed my son, chopped my husband, so what could I do? I escaped,” one refugee said.

The innovative documentary allows audiences to grasp the full gravity of the situation from every angle, Contrast VR editorial lead Zahra Rasool explained.

"You hear three people's stories, but then you can turn around and see hundreds, if not, thousands (of) more people throughout the film and you can imagine that they each have their own awful experiences, just not told to us," Rasool added.

U.N. Envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten called for an end to the persecutions Tuesday and invited Security Council members to see firsthand the suffering experienced at Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar.

‘Say the Word’: What the Rohingya Struggle is Really About

"Some women recounted how soldiers drowned babies in the village well," said Patten, who visited the camps in November. "A few women told me how their own babies were allegedly thrown in the fire as they were dragged away by soldiers and gang-raped."

Since fleeing Myanmar, thousands have set up camps in Bangladesh, erecting tents in sub-par and unhygienic conditions and relying on relief from national authorities and international organizations.

The film’s release coincided with the United Nations convention in New York, where members deliberated means of relieving tensions and the repatriation of Rohingya refugees, which they say is the solution to the crisis.

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