Rohingyas protest in KL over unrest in Myanmar

Rohingyas protest in KL over unrest in Myanmar

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Thousands of Rohingyas flocked to the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Aug 30, 2017 to call for an end to the bloodshed in Rakhine. (Photo: Melissa Goh)

KUALA LUMPUR: Hundreds of ethnic Rohingya protesters flocked to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday (Aug 30) demanding an end to the bloodshed in Rakhine.

Fresh fighting broke out in Rakhine state last week between security forces and Rohingya militants after the militants staged raids on police posts.

Fighting in Rakhine often prompts anger in Muslim-majority Malaysia. On Wednesday about 1,000 protesters - most of whom were believed to be Rohingya - gathered near a major road in Kuala Lumpur calling for an end to violence against the minority.

One protester had doused himself with petrol and attempted to set himself on fire before he was stopped by the police.

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A protester attempted to set himself on fire before he was stopped by the police on Aug 30, 2017. (Photo: Melissa Goh)

More than a hundred protesters were arrested by police for assembling illegally and obstructing traffic at midday in downtown KL. Another 20 protesters were arrested for alleged immigration offences.

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Police seen in Kuala Lumpur after thousands of Rohingyas took it to the streets to protest the bloodshed in Rakhine. (Photo: Melissa Goh) 

A smaller protest was also held outside the Myanmar embassy.

The Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organisation (MAPIM) president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid demanded Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to do more to end the senseless killings in Rakhine.

"State counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, you are to be blamed," he said. "You are supposed to be a democratic leader, you are supposed to protect human rights. Why are you siding the military?"

He added: "We are demanding (Myanmar) stops this violence against the Rohingya."

He also revived calls for the Malaysian government to send back all Myanmar migrants currently working in the country.

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Thousands of Rohingyas seen on the streets of Kuala Lumpur as they protest the bloodshed in Rakhine state. (Photo: Melissa Goh)

There are almost 60,000 Rohingya refugees in Malaysia, according to the United Nations, where they form part of a large workforce of immigrants doing low-skilled jobs spurned by locals in the relatively affluent country.

Persecution of the Rohingya, reviled as illegal immigrants by the majority Buddhist population in Myanmar, has caused much anger in Malaysia and across the Muslim world.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak who was a vocal critic against the Myanmar government for not addressing the plight of Rohingyas has yet to issue any comment over the recent flare up of violence.

A member of the UMNO ruling party's youth wing told Channel NewsAsia that Malaysia is currently hosting the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and Myanmar is taking part in many of the events. As a gracious host, it would refrain from making any statement until after the Games are over on Aug 30. 

(Additional reporting by Melissa Goh)

Source: AFP/CNA/aa