Over 300,000 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 recent weeks.
They are running from the Myanmar military regime’s latest crackdown. Entire villages have been burned to the ground and widespread killings have been reported.
The senior United Nations (UN) human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, has described the treatment of the Rohingya as a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing.
In response to the latest atrocities around 200 angry protesters, mainly Muslim, rallied outside Downing Street on Wednesday last week.
On Friday over 200 people joined a protest in Nelson, Lancashire, organised by the local Labour Party. Another 500 protested outside Downing Street on Saturday. And thousands gathered at protests at Downing Street and at the Myanmar embassy on Sunday.
Around a quarter of the Rohingya population has now been forced out of Myanmar by fear and terror.
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”.
On Wednesday’s protest Omar told Socialist Worker, “We want to raise awareness about what’s happening. 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 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 has 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 leaves significant powers 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, shaped the politics of the national liberation movement that took over after independence.
This means that practically all politicians push racism against the Rohingya. Nadim said, “Aung San Suu Kyi is not just complicit in what’s going on, but explicit about supporting it.”
Other protesters pointed to the British government’s role. Dr Maung Zarni said, “The British government is complicit in what’s going on. Why are they training the Burmese military?”