Hundreds of people in Pakistan have held a protest rally against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
On Friday, the demonstrators took to the streets in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest and most populous city, to condemn the dire situation of desperate Rohingya Muslims in the Southeast Asian country, where the army is accused of carrying out a brutal crackdown on the community.
The protesters carried signs and banners reading “Save our rights,” “Rohingya Muslims need attention,” and “Stop killing us for being Muslims,” while shouting slogans against the Myanmar government and demanding an immediate end to the violence against the Muslim community.
Myanmar’s northwestern state of Rakhine, home to a large number of Rohingya Muslims, has also been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands have been forced from homes and live in squalid camps in dire conditions in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The minority has been particularly under a military lockdown since an alleged attack on the country’s border guards on October 9, which left nine police officers dead. The government accused the Rohingya of being behind the assault. There have been reports of rape, murder, and arson against the Muslim population in the state.
Myanmar’s government denies full citizenship to the 1.1 million-strong population, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. However, many believe the Rohingya are a community of ancient lineage in Myanmar.
According to the UN, the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
The bloody crackdown on the Muslims by the military has now prompted an international outcry and poses the biggest challenge to Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi since her National League for Democracy party won the country’s first democratic elections in a generation last year.
On Thursday, the world body called on Suu Kyi to take action to end the brutal military crackdown on Rohingyas in Rakhine, urging her to reassure civilians they will be protected by the government, amid allegations that soldiers have raped Rohingya Muslim women, burnt houses and killed civilians.