Thai activists protest ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s Rohingyas


Rohingya migrants and Thai Muslims hold placards during a protest against attacks on Rohingya people in Myanmar outside the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, 25 November 2016. Photo: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA

Human rights activists in the Thai capital Friday denounced what they called a campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.

"This is ethnic cleansing," said Woriskham Thai-anant, spokesperson of the Council for Humanitarian Networking of Sheikhul Islam Office, a Thailand-based Muslim nonprofit.

On Thursday, UN Refugee Agency head John McKissick had used the term ethnic cleansing when discussing the human rights abuses committed by the Burmese government against the Rohingya, as cited by BBC news.

"Stop the oppression of the Rohingyas!" activists demanded in Bangkok, a slogan also echoed at other protests coordinated in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

At least 86 people have died and over 30,000 have been displaced since the Burmese Army launched an offensive in Maungdaw, a Rohingya-majority district in the western state of Rakhine on Oct. 9, after three border police posts were attacked by alleged insurgents.

Thai police said 100 people gathered outside the Burmese embassy in Bangkok, though organizers reported 300, who read out a statement demanding an end to the violence and entry for humanitarian aid into Maungdaw.

Burmese authorities have barred access to the conflict area for aid as well as independent media, while activists accuse the army of carrying out executions, rapes, and torture.

The Armed Forces say 69 insurgents and 17 soldiers and police personnel have been killed in operations while other sources - such as the Organization for Islamic Cooperation - claim the death toll to be over 400.

Meanwhile, thousands of Rohingyas have crossed the border into Bangladesh in search of food, water and medicines, but many are being forcibly repatriated, said Amnesty International.

Myanmar's de-facto head Aung San Suu Kyi has limited herself to saying the army is acting in accordance with the law, while the military blamed the Rohingyas of burning down their own houses.

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