Thousands of people took to the streets across Asia Friday to denounce Myanmar’s treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority.
At least 270,000 Rohingya have fled northern Myanmar into Bangladesh in the past two weeks, according to the United Nations refugee agency, roughly a third of all Rohingya living in the predominantly Buddhist country. More than 1,000 people have been killed in the violence, the UN estimates.
Political and Islamic groups, along with other civil society organizations, joined protests in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka Friday to urge Myanmar to “stop committing genocide” and take back those who have sought refuge elsewhere.
Placards and banners criticized Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Protests also took place in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Pakistan.
The government of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, blames terrorists for starting the violence. Rohingya militants killed 12 security officers in border post attacks two weeks ago.
‘Everyone should stand beside Rohingya’
Marchers in Dhaka expressed their outrage at reports of abuse coming from Myanmar.
“I’ve joined the rally to express my solidarity with the Rohingya people,” activist Mahfuza Haque Neela told CNN.
“The Rohingya people, including women and children, are being killed … women are being raped.”
He added that “everyone should stand beside the Rohingya people.”
The rally was partly organized by protest group Gonojagoron Mancha, whose leaders have said they plan to besiege Myanmar’s embassy in Dhaka on Monday if the government does not take action.
Shaila Ahmed, a 10-year-old school student, said she wanted to join the rally after she saw TV reports on the plight of the Rohingya.
Over a thousand Muslim devotees belonging to the organization Islamic Movement Bangladesh joined a rally in the capital’s downtown Paltan area after Friday’s noon prayer.