Protest in London Exposes Plight of the Rohingyas

London – Over sixty protestors united in response to the horrific abuse of human rights against the Rohingyas outside the Embassy of Mayanmar on Wednesday, 13 June.

Both in English and Burmese, protestors chanted ‘Free Free Rohingya’ and ‘Peaceful coexistence in Arakan!’ amidst speeches made by members and supporters.  The Rohingya community and their supporters from across the UK united at the protest against the persecution of Rohingya in Mayanmar also known as Burma.

The Burmese Rohingya Organisation (BROUK) launched the protest which was supported by Restless Beings to expose the treatment of Rohingya people in Mayanmar during recent ethnic clashes in the country. This ethnic clash sparked violence between the Rohingya and Rakhine over the past week in the Western State of Arakan, Mayanmar.

Maung Tun Khin, a speaker at the event, who is President of BROUK, said he has been receiving harrowing reports of attacks on the Rohingya people who are living in Arakan claiming that up to 1,000 Rohingya have already been killed. He recently received one such call from a friend whose home was set on fire and Tun Khin recalled what was described to him.

People come to my place with a big crowd, and authorities are also with them together, and they put petrol and put the place on fire. I was able to leave luckily but the places are still burning. Please raise your voice to the international community to save our lives.

Despite these harrowing reports, hundreds of Rohingyas fleeing in boats from the violence to Bangladesh are being turned back. Many Rohingya refugees also live in Bangladesh where they are denied citizenship.

Rashed, a protestor at the event, asked for peace for the Rohingya in Bangladesh and for the country to provide refuge for Rohingyas fleeing violence in Mayanmar.

Rashed, who preferred not to share his last name, is a Rohingya who was living in Bangladesh with his family until 2009. After he came to the UK, a crackdown by Bangladesh’s government on the Rohingyas changed his life.

“I was in Bangladesh and came here in 2009… In 2010, January, there [was] a crackdown at that time. My father and mother went [missing.]… I don’t know if they are arrested in Bangladesh or deported in Mayanmar. It’s still two years, I’m waiting for my father and mother’s news. As well as my brother who is in Malaysia…I don’t know if he is alive or not,” said Rashed, 23. “It’s a very stressful and in limbo situation for us.”

Protestors like Rashed were at the event alongside groups such as the Bradford Rohingya Community (BRCUK) and the Burmese Muslim Association. Rahima Begum, co-director of Restless Beings, spoke to the crowd and urged more people to become aware of the situation in Mayanmar. The Rohingya have been part of Restless Being’s projects for two years and Restless Beings is working closely with BROUK and Tun Khin to raise awareness of their plight.

Begum asked politicians in the West to put pressure on the government of Mayanmar so they grant equal rights to the Rohingya people.

Protestors also urged action from the international community for the Rohingya people and asked for greater awareness of the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from Mayanmar.

“We want to see an international independent inquiry in these cases where innocent people have been killed by Rakhine extremists. The violence is still going on in some places. The government needs to provide aid,” said Tun Khin.

While fighting continues between the two ethnic groups in some parts of Mayanmar, the fight has found a new battle ground on Twitter. In recent days, a Twitter campaign led by pro-Rakhine supporters has been attacking supporters of the Rohingya people. Rohingya supporters believe that the dehumanisation of Rohingya people should not be a way to legitimise the ethnic cleansing of the group.

Although the clashes in Mayanmar have been set off by recent events in the past few weeks, the Rohingya people have actually had a troubled and deep-rooted history in Mayanmar for many years.

The Rohingya have yet to be recognised as citizens of Mayanmar and the UN states they are one of the most persecuted communities in the world. According to Reuters, “The Buddhist-majority Myanmar's government regards the estimated 800,000 Muslim Rohingyas in the country as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship. Bangladesh has refused to grant Rohingyas refugee status since 1992.”

For the Rohingya people, their very existence is a source of conflict and contempt in Mayanmar and surrounding countries but it will not continue if more people unite against their persecution.

To join the movement in support of the Rohingya people, sign this petition:

Attend our Building Hope where we’ll be addressing and talking about the underlying issues of the stateless Rohingyas if you want to find out more:

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Mabrur Ahmed

Small positive steps - it must be said though that it is a great shame, that not enough were able to show their support at the protest. Once again, not enough exposure means that naturally there is a huge number of people who are not aware of the plight of the Rohingya and the unstable situation in Rakhine state just now and as such the numbers will inevitably be low

14 June 2012 delete
Koyrun Nahar

Truly a marginal community which is deprived all rights yet barely makes the news. Discriminated due to race and religion, an ethnic cleansing which one would have thought stopped with Hitlers atrocious killing of the Jewish community?! Disturbing

14 June 2012 delete
Muhammad Noman

Thanks Restless Being for the support and raising the voice with us to STOP the Violence, Burning homes and Prosecution of Innocent Rohingya.......!!

14 June 2012 delete
Foreda Begum

protest in ireland:

15 June 2012 delete
Jakril Hoque

American private equity firms, Australian miners, Japanese salesmen they are all salivating at the prospect of doing business in Burma. They describe it as "...the last virgin market left in the world, the last untapped market," " of... last frontiers, along with North Korea and to some extent Iran,"

It really does make you wonder, this whole move towards embracing the international community, is it all just about business, money and 'liberalisation' of Burma's natural resources? Is democracy a sideshow there to legitimise this huge gold rush and allow the ageing junta to switch their military privileges for economic/financial ones?

If so, does this mean the persecution, oppression and violence against minorities like the Rohingya becomes an inconenient truth that acts as a stumbling block that then needs to be swept under the carpet?

The world economic system that we are all part of continues to put profit before people and our apathy continues to provide tacit approval.

Another world is possible. One that puts human rights, the environment and sustainability at it's core.

18 June 2012 delete
Mabrur Ahmed

You see, if and when human rights, sustainability and the environment become the agenda and the only agenda, then and only then will the apathy disappear. And you are absolutely right, its all about cashing in on an untapped market. The moves for democracy and the democratisation of Myanmar are geared towards the inevitable arrival of foreign investors.

I honestly do not expect anything more from developed markets, and the BRIC markets as their cornerstone for success is the fact that they have exploited not only their populations, but also their environments and have put capital gain ahead of the interests of their own population. International trade is a beautiful concept. International trade at the cost of human rights though, abhors me.

18 June 2012 delete
Shamim Ahmed

People of Chittagong and the Govt of Bangladesh should provide temporary shelter to Rohingya Burmese Muslims. If BD can allow Biharis to live in UN camps in Dhaka/Chittagong, If Bangladesh can allo Millions of Hindus who migrated to India in '47 to return and re-claim lands in Bangladesh, If BD can allow few hundred thousands of Buddhists who were persecuted by the Moghs to settle in Chittagong Hill Tracts, PEOPLE OF CHITTAGONG should open the door for our fellow unfortunate human beings from Arakan/Akyab/Burma. The way people of India gave refuge to people of Bangladesh, Bangladesh should do the same to people of Arakan/Akyab Muslims. PEOPLE OF CHITTAGONG did take refuge in Arakan and Akyab during 16th and 17th Century from the tyranny of Moghs and Portugese invasion of Chittagong. OH PEOPLE OF CHITTAGONG AND BANGLADESH, Return the favour to the Rohingya Burmese Muslims. UN should provide food &other necessities, Bangladesh/Chittagong can offer thousands of miles of UNINHABITATED LAND in CHITTAGONG HILL TRACTS, though temporarily though.

01 July 2012 delete
Shamim Ahmed

With the support of Restless Beings, BROUK, BURMESE MUSLIM ASSOCIATION AND BRADFORD ROHINGYA ASSOC (BRCUK), SHOULD involve the Chittagongian Associations in UK and MEET AND MAKE REPRESENTATIONS TO THE FOREIGN SECRETARY OF UK, MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS, TO VOICE ROHINGYA MASSACRE ISSUES. They should call for the International Tribunal in Hague to assist. I, for one, WILL SUPPORT THE CAUSE OF BURMESE ROHINGYA MUSLIMS. HOW DO I CONTACT THESE ORGANIZATIONS ? How about making a Protest in front of Bangladesh Embassy in Manchester by Bradford Rohingya Associaton ?

01 July 2012 delete