YANGON - A group of about 50 demonstrators from violence-hit western Myanmar gathered in Yangon on Sunday to protest against UN assistance for stateless Rohingya Muslims. The ethnic Rakhine convened near the regional parliament building in Myanmar’s main city holding banners reading “Stop Creating Conflicts” and “Don’t Bring Terrorists To Our Land”. “We’re calling for an end to discrimination by the UN against the Rakhine people,” Zaw Aye Maung, a politician representing the mostly Buddhist ethnic group, told AFP. He said the rally had official approval.
Fighting between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine state has left about 80 people from both sides dead since June, according to an official estimate, although rights groups fear the real toll is much higher. New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar forces of opening fire on Rohingya, and Muslim nations have voiced deep concerns over the treatment of the stateless group. Speaking a dialect similar to one in neighbouring Bangladesh, the Rohingya are seen by the Myanmar government and many Burmese as illegal immigrants, while Bangladesh has turned away Rohingya who attempted to flee the violence. Twenty four political parties in Myanmar have urged the United Nations to replace its human rights envoy to the formerly army-ruled country, Tomas Ojea Quintana, saying he is biased in favour of the Rohingya.