Myanmar is a mess. Years of ethnic and religious warfare have left deep scars in both the Buddhist and Muslim communities there. There have been cries of ethnic cleansing charged against Buddhists, but very few are held responsible for crimes against Muslims.
When an issue is this enormous, it is often hard to think about it in human terms. After all, “violence against Muslims” or “ethnic cleansing” isn’t the same as “my friend was killed.” The perspective shifts when there are faces, names, grief and empathy. I don’t know Shamshu Nahad, but I suppose that, like nearly every woman, she was looking forward to holding her baby in her arms, caressing the child’s cheeks, watching the little changes that happen in the first few weeks after birth. But none of this will happen now.
Hours after Shamshu Nahad gave birth to her second child, a beautiful baby girl, her husband was digging its grave.
The tiny corpse, wrapped in white cloth, was placed on a straw mat and lowered into the moist earth, neighbors and relatives bowing their heads as they quietly recited Muslim prayers.
Like the child’s life, the ceremony was brief, over in a matter of minutes.