Protest held at Rochdale Memorial Gardens opposing genocide in Myanmar
Date published: 20 September 2017
A peaceful protest showing solidarity with the Rohingya people
A peaceful protest was held at the Rochdale Memorial Gardens on Saturday 16 September to oppose the genocide of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar (formerly Burma).
Many Rohingya say that Burmese government security forces have torched their villages and killed civilians. Since 25 August, over 300,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled their homes: huge numbers have crossed the border to Bangladesh, where refugee camps are full, and tens of thousands are trapped on hillsides without access to food, water or medicine.
Following an upsurge in violence perpetrated by the Burmese army against the minority group, likened by the United Nations as ‘ethnic cleansing’, the plight of the Rohingya has been a hot topic in Parliament this month.
In 2013, the minority group - who make up 1.1 million of the South East Asian country’s 53 million population, but who are not recognised as full citizens - was described by the United Nations as 'one of the most persecuted minorities in the world'.
Members of the local communities here in Rochdale gathered together to show that Rochdalians are concerned about not only the genocide in Myanmar and the humanitarian atrocities that have been committed by the army there, but also intimidation and violence of terrorists in Britain, and exploitation of children in Rochdale.
Speeches were read out by Imtiaz Ahmad of World Congress of Overseas Pakistani, Mufti Zaid from the Rochdale Council of Mosques, Reverend Mark Coleman of St Chad’s Church, Reverend Shanny Webster of the Unitarian Church.
A statement by Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd was also read out.
Humanitarian activist Sarah Pickles also addressed the crowds, as did Parminder Singh, representing the Sikh community, Hafiz Ikram from the Rochdale Girls’ School and Councillor Asim Rashid’s son, Umar.
Councillor Aasim Rashid said: “The UN should take immediate action against the violation of human rights, and the abuse and brutality happening in Burma, especially atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhian province.
“There are more than 350,000 people who have been displaced from their homes.
"Burma’s army are killing innocent children.
"We urgently request our Foreign Office to make sure that the killing of innocent people should be stopped.”
The protest was organised by World Congress of Overseas Pakistani, Pakistani & Kashmiri Community Association, Rochdale Council of Mosques, St Chad’s Church, Unitarian Church and the Bangladeshi community.