In Myanmar, monks protest over US Embassy using “Rohingya’ term for Bengali Muslims

Monks in Myanmar, Wikimedia Commons

April 28, 2016. MYANMAR: Buddhists monks along with several other protesters confronted the United States for using the term ‘Rohingya’ to refer a Bengali Muslims ethnic minority group. On Thursday, the protesters gathered outside the U.S. Embassy, Yangon, and carried slogan boards proclaiming “No more use of the term ‘Rohingya”, “U.S. Embassy get out if you say more,” and “We request the present authorities of the state to announce the truth that Rohingyas are not Myanmar citizens at all.” They marched from the Yongon University to U.S. Embassy confronting the statement issued on April 20.

The protestors -many were Monks- insisted that the ethnic minority of Muslims should rather be called ‘Bengalis’ and regarded as illegal migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh as there is no ethnicity of ‘Rohingya’ in their country. Despite many of the ancestors of the minority group have lived in Myanmar for generations, they are denied of basic rights and even citizenship as the country officially does not recognize Rohigya as an ethnic group.

The protest was ignited by the statement of U.S. Embassy referring minority group as Rohigya and expressing sympathies for the people, who drowned off the shore of Rakhine State on April 19.

Many of the people of the group are living in poor conditions in filthy displacement camps after being forced to flee their homes over the conflict erupted in the western state of Rakhine in 2012 which raised tensions between Buddhists of Rakhine and the Muslim group. They are restricted to travel freely in the country, to higher education and even to marry or have children without official permission.

Earlier this month, United Nations had given 100 days to Myanmar’s current civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) to improve living conditions for this minority group.

Prepared by Pashciema with input from VOA.