Over 160,000 Rohingya minority Muslims have been forced to flee their homes in western Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
Hundreds have died making the perilous journey into neighbouring Bangladesh in the last few weeks.
They are running from the Myanmar’s military regime’s latest crackdown—labelled the worst by human rights groups.
After 140,000 Rohingya were forced out in 2012. The United Nations (UN) produced a report on those that remained that said, “Families may have had members killed, beaten, raped and taken away to an unknown location, while at the same time their homes were burned and looted,” it said.
Mynamar’s prime minister Aung San Suu Kyi has denied the latest atrocities have even taken place, blaming “terrorists” for spreading an “iceberg of misinformation”.
In response to the atrocities around 200 angry protesters, mainly Muslim, rallied outside Downing Street on Wednesday night. Omar told Socialist Worker, “We want to raise awareness about the happening to the Rohingya. People need to know there's a genocide going on.”
As Muslims the Rohingya do not have citizenship rights under racist laws in Myanmar, a Buddhist majority country.
Nadim, another protester, told Socialist Worker, “If this was Muslims doing it to other Burmese people it would be different—we would all know about it. Why is the government not saying anything?”
The military dictatorship that's ruled Myanmar since 1962 has persecuted the Rohingya, but it's not just the country’s military rulers that are to blame.
Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National Democratic League, became prime minister as part of a sham “reform process” that still leaves real power in the hands of the military.
When the latest military crackdown began, Aung San Suu Kyi claimed the Rohingya were “Bengalis” and that they had set fire to their own homes.
The system of divide and rule, brought in by the country's former British colonial rulers, runs deep in society. It also shaped the politics of the national liberation movement that took over after independence.
This means that practically all politicians, including those who’ve fought against the military regime, push racism against the Rohingya.
Omar said, “The leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi has a Nobel Peace Prize, but she's in charge of what's going on. They should take the prize off her.”
Nadim added, “People are not aware of what Aung San Suu Kyi is doing—she's not just complicit in what's going on, but explicit about supporting it.”
Activists have called another solidarity protest outside Downing Street for this Saturday.