Myanmar crowd protests Malaysia rally for Rohingya

Protesters accuse Malaysia gov’t of meddling in Myanmar internal affairs by organizing rally in support of Rohingya Muslims

Myanmar crowd protests Malaysia rally for Rohingya

World Bulletin / News Desk

A crowd gathered in Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon on Sunday to protest Malaysia’s government for organizing a rally in which Prime Minister Najib Razak accused Myanmar of rights violations against Rohingya Muslims.

Thousands of people -- including several Malaysian politicians -- attended the demonstration in Kuala Lumpur to demand an end to violence against the stateless Rohingya community in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine State.

Since last month, Malaysia has criticized Myanmar’s government and military over violence in Rakhine -- which Razak and his cabinet have called "ethnic cleansing" -- while Myanmar has accused Malaysia of meddling in its internal affairs.

Hundreds of people -- including Buddhist monks -- joined the anti-Malaysia protest in Yangon on Sunday, carrying signs reading: “Be careful of two countries’ relation, Malaysian Prime Minister. Don’t pressure over fake ethnic.”

Pamaukkha, a monk who organized the protest, accused Razak of using religion in an attempt to regain his popularity among Malaysians by intervening in Myanmar’s sovereign affairs.

“This is our internal affairs, and the Malaysian government has nothing to do with this,” said Pamaukkha, a former leader of a nationalist Buddhist organization who resigned earlier this year after criticizing the “Ma Ba Tha” for contravening the will of the majority of Myanmar’s monks and people.

“I want to request him [Razak] not to mix religion with politics,” he told Anadolu Agency. “It’s very risky and dangerous.”

Rohingya advocacy groups claim around 400 Rohingya have been killed in military operations in northern Rakhine since Oct. 9 attacks that left nine Myanmar border police officials dead, while Myanmar says just 91 people -- 17 soldiers and 74 alleged "attackers" (including four who reportedly died during interrogation) -- have been killed.

Humanitarian outfits have called for an independent probe into the initial attacks, the ongoing operations and reported rapes and rights abuses in Rakhine, as with the area placed under military lockdown, rights groups and international reporters have been unable to enter.

On Sunday, Razak told the Kuala Lumpur rally -- attended by thousands of Rohingya, many of them refugees -- that the gathering was aimed at telling Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi -- a Nobel Peace laureate -- "that enough is enough".

"I asked my foreign minister to immediately meet her to find a resolution to the issue but she rejected it immediately,” he said. “She told my minister that she was willing to meet on Malaysia and Myanmar bilateral issues but not on Rohingya. This is the mentality class of a Nobel Peace Prize winner."

On Friday, Suu Kyi insisted that Myanmar’s government wants to make the relationship between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and the Muslim minority “better”, but accused the international community of not adopting a constructive stance on the “highly sensitive and delicate” issue.

“But I would appreciate it so much if the international community would help us to maintain peace and stability and to make progress in building better relations between the two communities instead of always drumming up calls for, well, for bigger fires of resentment, if you like,” she told Channel News Asia in an interview in Singapore.

“I’m not saying there are no difficulties, but it helps if people recognize the difficulty and are more focused on resolving these difficulties rather than exaggerating them so that everything seems worse than it really is," she added.

A law passed in Myanmar in 1982 denied Rohingya -- many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations -- citizenship, making them stateless.

The law denies the Rohingya rights to Myanmar nationality, removes their freedom of movement, access to education and services, and allows arbitrary confiscation of property.

Myanmar nationalists have since taken to referring to the Rohingya -- which the United Nations calls one of the most persecuted people in the world -- as Bengali, which suggests they are not Myanmar nationals but interlopers from neighboring Bangladesh.

Rohingya have fled Myanmar in droves for decades, with a new wave of migrations occurring since mid-2012 after communal violence broke out in Rakhine between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya -- described by the United Nations as among the most persecuted minority groups worldwide.

According to the last census in Malaysia, there were some 135,000 Rohingya in the country in 2014.

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Last Mod: 04 Aralık 2016, 16:11
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