WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

The father of a toddler who was found dead lying face down in the mud after trying to flee Myanmar has pleaded with the world to take notice of their plight.

Rohingya refugee Mohammed Shohayet, a 16-month-old boy, had been trying to leave his home in Rakhine State with his family and head to Bangladesh.

The Rohingya people have claimed they have been persecuted by the Myanmar military and many fleeing the country have told of rape, murder and arson at the hands of security forces, CNN reports.

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The Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority in the predominately Buddhist Myanmar, are considered one of the world's most persecuted groups. Sectarian violence has ripped the Rohingya apart, including the family of 11-year-old Senwara Begum.

Mohammed had been with his mother and brother as they tried to cross Naf River and make it Bangladesh when their boat sank.

The boy's body was later found washed up, face down in the mud and a haunting picture of Mohammed has been compared to that of refugee Aylan Kurdi, who drowned off the coast of Turkey while trying to flee Syria.

And now Mohammed's father Zafor Alam, who had earlier made it safely to Bangladesh, is pleading with the world to take notice of the plight of the Rohingya people.

He told CNN: 'In our village, helicopters fired guns at us, and the Myanmar soldiers also opened fire on us. My grandfather and grandmother were burnt to death. Our whole village was burnt by the military. Nothing left.

"When I see the picture, I feel like I would rather die. There is no point in me living in this world.

"I want to let the whole world know. The Myanmar government should not be given any more time. If you take time to take action, they will kill all Rohingyas."

Mohammed Shohayet, a 16-month-old boy, who had been trying to leave his home in Rakhine State with his family and head to Bangladesh when he drowned.
Mohammed Shohayet, a 16-month-old boy, who had been trying to leave his home in Rakhine State with his family and head to Bangladesh when he drowned.

The fleeing of Rohingya people from Myanmar, also known as Burma, comes as tens of thousands have crossed the border into Bangladesh as they are loathed by the country's Buddhist majority.

More than 120,000 have been trapped in squalid displacement camps since violence erupted in 2012 in Rakhine, where they are denied citizenship, access to healthcare and education.

In the past week a video has emerged showing Myanmar police beating civilians from the Muslim minority.

But the country's led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has said the allegations are made up and has resisted mounting international pressure to act to protect the minority.

Last week, a commission set up to investigate the violence released its interim report dismissing claims security forces had carried out abuses or has embarked on a campaign to force the Rohingya out.

The size of the 'Bengali' population, mosques and religious buildings in the unrest-hit area "are proof that there were no cases of genocide and religious persecution," it said in a statement carried in state media.

Myanmar refuses to recognise the Rohingya as one of the country's ethnic minorities, instead describing them as Bengalis - or illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

The commission, headed by a former army general until recently blacklisted by Washington, also found 'insufficient evidence' of rape and was still looking into claims of arson, illegal arrests and torture of the Rohingya.

- nzherald.co.nz