Several hundred Muslim women demonstrated outside Myanmar’s embassy in the Indonesian capital on Monday in the third day of protests calling for the government to take a tougher stance against persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority. Dozens of armed police are guarding the embassy, which is cordoned behind barbed wire, after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at it on the weekend.
Protesters, organized by an Islamic group called Friends of Muslim Rohingya, shouted “Save Rohingya,” and held big banners that read, “Unite the people to free Rohingya Muslims” and “Stop Muslim genocide in Myanmar!”
The violence in Myanmar and an exodus of tens of thousands of Rohingya from Rakhine state into Bangladesh began after insurgents attacked Myanmar police and paramilitary posts in what they said was an effort to protect their ethnic minority from persecution by security forces in the majority Buddhist country.
In response, Myanmar’s military unleashed what it called “clearance operations.” Human Rights Watch says satellite imagery shows 700 buildings were burned in the Rohingya Muslim village of Chein Khar Li, just one of 17 locations in Rakhine state where the rights group has documented burning of property.
Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize, said on Twitter she is waiting for fellow Nobel laureate, Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to condemn the “tragic and shameful treatment” of the Rohingya minority. In Australia, around 300 people from its Rohingya community rallied outside Parliament House and called on the government to intervene to prevent violence.
Indonesian Muslims protested against Myanmar’s government in Jakarta on the weekend, setting fire to a picture of Suu Kyi and further protests are set for this week. Local media reported that one group plans to stage a protest at Borobudur, a famous ancient Buddhist temple in central Java.
“The world remains silent in the face of the massacre of Rohingya Muslims,” said Farida, an organizer of Monday’s protest who uses a single name. “They have been tortured and killed like animals by Buddhists in Myanmar,” she told the crowd outside the embassy. “We demand the government puts pressure on the Buddhist government of Myanmar. We demand mobilization of our military to rescue the Rohingya.”
Indonesia’s president has called for an end to violence in Rakhine state and sent his foreign minister to discuss the plight of Rohingya Muslims with Suu Kyi.