Hundreds of people showed their solidarity with Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar at a noisy protest outside the country’s Ottawa embassy Sunday afternoon.
Protesters lined Island Park Drive for hours, directing their ire at the goverment building across the street with slogans that both warned of potential genocide and heavily criticized Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto leader.
“We are on the brink of witnessing another Rwanda or Srebenica,” said Raees Ahmed, a Rohingya Muslim with family members stuck in the country.
“It is in our responsibility — not only as Rohingya descendents or Rohingya relatives — but as a world community to prevent another [genocide] from happening.”
Began fleeing last month
The rally comes as roughly 300,000 Rohingya Muslims have already fled to neighbouring Bangladesh in an attempt to escape a violent crackdown by the Myanmar military upon the ethnic minority.
The exodus from the country’s Rakhine state began Aug. 25, after the Myanmar military launched what it called “clearance operations” to root out any hiding Rohingya insurgents.
The government of Myanmar — also known as Burma — said nearly 400 people have been killed in the fighting, which it blames on those insurgents. The Rohingya say that Myanmar troops and Buddhist mobs have engaged in a campaign of widespread violence, burning homes, spraying bullets indiscriminately and stabbing civilians.
On Sunday, Amnesty International also reported two people fleeing violence in Rakhine had been injured by land mines. Myanmar has one of the few militaries that use anti-personnel mines, which were banned under an international treaty in 1997.
Many Rohingya have been in Myanmar for generations, but they are now considered illegals and were effectively stripped of the right to citizenship in 1982.
Deprived of basic rights
Ahmed, who recently moved to Ottawa, told CBC News he had uncles, aunts and cousins living under constant threat of violence and being deprived of basic human rights.
One uncle in Rakhine state had died of complications from diabetes three months ago, Ahmed said, because security forces wouldn’t let him travel to see a doctor.
“We have to address this violence. We have to stop this violence, whether…