The Rohingya, fleeing for their lives in Myanmar, head for Bangladesh

Myanmar's government forces are reportedly carrying out new attacks on the Rohingya, a Muslim minority considered one of the most persecuted groups in the world.
9:02 | 09/07/17

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Transcript for The Rohingya, fleeing for their lives in Myanmar, head for Bangladesh
Reporter: They are running for their lives, hoping to escape what they believe is certain death, risking it all to cross illegally from Myanmar into Bangladesh. We ask why are you coming here? Translator: We do not have peace in our home. So we're coming to Bangladesh. Our house was destroyed. Translator: Because we are being persecuted. We are scared. The authorities ordered us to leave our home. There have been killings. Reporter: We ask how many have been killed. Too many to count. There is no crime that the authorities have not committed. Repter: Disturbing reports emerging of a new wave of attacks unleashed by government forces in Myanmar on the rohingya, a Muslim minority considered one of the most persecuted groups in the world. Nearly 150,000 rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh since August 25th, with thousands more at the border waiting to cross. Reports of villages surrounded, homes burned to the ground, torture, executions, and rape. All the more surprising is that this is all unfolding in aug San suu kyi's new democratic Myanmar. She won the Nobel peace prize for her principled stand against tyranny. Democratic values and fundamental human rights are not only necessary but possible for our society. Reporter: But despite the united nations' demand that Myanmar open its doors to an independent inquiry into human rights violations and possible ethnic cleansing -- I am deeply concerned about the security, humanitarian and human rights situation in Myanmar's rakhin estate. Reporter: Suu kyi says she'll deny access. She's already denied the charges. I don't think ethnic cleansing is going on. I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression. I think there's a lot of hostility there. It's muslims killing muslims as well. It's a matter of people on different siefds a divide. Reporter: Suu kyi did not respond to our request for an interview but she recently sat down with the bbc and made it clear she does not agree with her critics. People would say I said nothing. Simply because I didn't make the kind of statement they thought I should make, which is to condemn one community or the other. Reporter: Calls for cooperation and restraint from U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Malala, and pope Francis have gone unanswered. The rohingya are unwanted in Myanmar and restricted to large camps that have been called the world's largest outdoor prison. We saw the deplorable conditions firsthand when we traveled to the camps in 2015. Why are we going through the back entrance? The authorities are not interested in outside attention. Reporter: You can see the barbed wire everywhere and armed officers at the few exits. Conditions continue to deteriorate, with the head of the Myanmar military reaffirming their hard-line stance that the rohingya don't actually exist. Yet Myanmar now says their non-existent rohingya have created an extremist terrorist organization called arsa that they say is fomenting revolution and is responsible for attacks on dozens of police posts, a military base, and even civilians. So we traveled to Bangladesh to see if there was any truth to this claim and to speak with survivors of government attacks. Attacks such as this one. Recogniza villagers seen her struck repeatedly by police. Villagers tell us they have risked their lives to record the abuse with their cell phones. The markings of torture, beatings, even the painful search for loved ones in the ashes. Matthew Smith, CEO of fortify rights, and his team have been documenting these atrocities for years. The level of persecution is severe and has been for a very long time. And the civilian population is really facing a significant existential threat from the Myanmar military and other state security forces. In some cases there are photos and videos of women explaining rape that they had endured, videos of injuries, gunshot wounds, knife wounds. There's a whole range of evidence. Reporter: As we drive through southern Bangladesh, the rohingya are easy to spot. The black tarps that serve as shelters dot the hills, and soon we see women and children begging by the side of the road. So is this a new camp or is this an old cam. This is the oldest. This camp was established in the '90s. These are all brand new arrivals here. Wherever we see the black tarps. Reporter: Wow. What's wrong with her leg? Everyone we encounter wants to share their story. Did you see gunfire? Did you see attacks from the government? What exactly happened to you while you were in Myanmar? A father brings his son up close to the camera. This is a bullet right here that went off. Do you feel pretty lucky to be alive? Yeah. Reporter: Happy to be alive. See these little guys here? They're not healthy. Hello. This family tells us they witnessed brutal killings. What did you witness? Can you show me exactly what you saw? They put a rope around their neck like this and attached it to the car and just drove away and killed them? During our interview this 13-year-old girl sat behind her mother, gently rocking herself. What did you see in that village before you came over here to Bangladesh? Reporter: Resources are very limited here. Most of the new arrivals escaped with only the clothes on their backs. Their makeshift homes are empty of any belongings. They don't have money. The children are suffering from acute malnutrition. And Bangladesh does not want them here. Why does the government say there are only about 30,000 of these refugees from Myanmar? Bangladesh authorities won't allow the U.N. Agency to register official refugee status. Part of their argument is that they don't want to draw more refugees into Bangladesh. But the reality is that people are fleeing for their lives. Reporter: This is the naff river, separating Myanmar from Bangladesh. We are so close we can see the military checkpoint in Myanmar, just across the water is where the attacks against the rohingya are reported to be unfolding. And where the government now says they're fighting terrorists. The military enjoys complete impunity. And as long as that persists and as long as the rohingya are denied their citizenship rights I'm afraid we're going to see more attacks just like we've been seeing recently. Reporter: But what about the government's claim that the rohingya have formed a terrorist organization linked to international terror groups with funding from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? Through various networks on the ground we reached out to Atta Ullah, a hunted man, the leader of arsa, short for the arak hachlt N rohingya salvation Army. After several calls and texts we were led through a maze of hallways and buildings only to be met with a cell phone. Atta Ullah was still in the jungles of Myanmar but on Skype he readily admitted to attacking police outposts. Why is it that you attacked -- Translator: The brutal military government has treated the rohingya people like animals. Reporter: The Myanmar government says this is without question terrorism. Translator: We are not terrorists. We are working for the rohingya people and their rights. Reporter: A lot of people want to know, though, do you have any other connections to, for example, ISIS or Al Qaeda? Translator: We have no connections. We don't even want to connect with terrorist groups. Reporter: If you could meet face to face with suu kyi, what would you like to tell her? Translator: She should give the rights of the rohingya people back to them. They want their rights back. Reporter: With new attacks by the insurgents and the government responding with clearance operations, any change of stance from Myanmar or aug San suu kyi now seems unlikely. Without question suu kyi is looked at as the most famous and in many ways to people the most heroic leader of Myanmar ever. Her reputation is suffering internationally certainly. Since October she's essentially spearheaded a propaganda campaign denying that human rights violations are taking place. Many people, including us, are perplexed by her response. She's not providing the moral leadership that she should be. Reporter: With no solution in sight the rohingya continue to live in fear, waiting for security and acceptance in their own home. I'm Bob woodruff reporting for "Nightline" in Bangladesh.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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