Thousands of people have been staging rallies across the UK in protest against Myanmar’s “silent genocide” on Rohingya Muslims.
Over the weekend protesters gathered outside 10 Downing Street and the Myanmar Embassy in London, carrying banners and chanting slogans that condemned the Myanmar government’s actions.
“This is anger! We are expressing our anger against the Burmese government who is doing genocide against our people,” Nurul Islam, president of Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO), said. “We want to draw the attention of the UK government, being a member of the UN Security Council and a powerful country,” he added.
Photos of women and children brutally massacred over past month at the hands of Myanmar army were also raised during the rally.
On Friday, an event was held at the London Muslim Centre in Whitechappel. Speakers at the event, titled “Silent Genocide,” recalled previous tragedies such as Rwanda and Bosnia where the world looked the other way or did not act soon enough, resulting in terrible consequences.
Organiser Abdullah Faliq issued a rallying cry to the audience, many of whom struggled to find a place to sit or stand in the hall. “How many of us here wrote to our MP? How many of us called or wrote to the Burma [Myanmar] embassy here in the UK? How many of us went to a demonstration recently?”
An activist with decades of experience on Myanmar, Mark Farmaner described his recent conversations with the Burmese leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Aung San Suu Kyi’s behaviour is inexcusable, I campaigned for more than a decade for her release from house arrest, I pressured the government, I went around the world calling for her release … and I am so disappointed with how she has behaved.
“I’ve spoken to this about her myself; she did not seem sympathetic … I said to her, please go and see for yourself what’s going on in northern Rakhine State to the Rohingya, but she refused.”
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, more than a quarter of a million Rohingya refugees have flooded into Bangladesh in just two weeks, fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Spokesman William Spindler said 270,000 Rohingya had crossed the border since August 25, when clashes between the military and militants intensified.
The numbers represent roughly a third of the country’s Rohingya people, a stateless Muslim minority, although the Myanmar government doesn’t release exact population figures.
The UN also estimates 1,000 people have died in the past 2 weeks, but this is likely to be an under estimate.
The British government provides £300,000 in direct military aid to Myanmar in addition to having burgeoning trade ties since the country held its first free election in 2015.
Meanwhile, a mass demonstration in support of the Rohingya will be held in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester on Sunday.
The demonstration is being organised by Drive For Justice (D4J) in partnership with the Trades Council, Lancashire Council of Mosques, Preston Interfaith Forum and others.
A vehicle convoy will leave from Corporation Park, Blackburn at 11am. For Further information or if you wish to help please contact 07985265555.
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