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Protests held against killing of Rohingya Muslims

September 09, 2017

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PPP activists protest the killing of Muslims in Myanmar outside the National Press Club on Friday. — Online
PPP activists protest the killing of Muslims in Myanmar outside the National Press Club on Friday. — Online

ISLAMABAD: Several protests were held in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Friday against the killings of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The protestors urged the Pakistani government to initiate efforts to stop the killings.

Four protest rallies were taken out in the capital city. Speakers at the protests said the Pakistani government should assume a pro-active role in mitigating the crisis and should call an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Some of the speakers also criticised the indifferent attitude of Muslim countries and of the military alliance of Islamic nations for not pressuring the Myanmar government to stop the killing of Rohingya Muslims.

The protests were peaceful except for a minor scuffle at Serena Chowk.

The first of the rallies was taken out by the Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen (MWM) from the G-6 imambargah to China Chowk which was led by MWM Secretary General Islamabad Allama Asghar Askari. He called for a diplomatic and peaceful solution for the crises and for providing aid to the refugees who have been forced to leave their homes in Myanmar. Other speakers appreciated the announcement by Iran’s Red Crescent for providing aid packages for the victims.

Speakers urge government to use diplomatic channels to mitigate the crisis, call emergency OIC meeting

The Jammat-i-Islami (JI) took out a rally from Aabpara and announced that it will go to the Myanmar Embassy, in the Diplomatic Enclave and inside the Red Zone. The rally was held together with the proscribed Ahl-i-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Ansarul Ummah led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, representatives of JUI-S and other smaller parties. Strong contingents of police and other law enforcement agencies were posted at Serena Chowk. After they reached Serena Chowk, the protestors pushed police officers and threw stones at them. They crossed the barbed wire and some of the young protestors climbed one of the containers on the road leading to the Red Zone.

Police officers stationed at the second line of containers helped the protestors place banners on the containers but told them to stay away from the shipping containers after that.

JI Senator Sirajul Haq said the ambassador of Myanmar should be sent back. He said the objective of the military alliance of 45 Muslim states was to wipe out terrorism.

“I ask Muslim leaders why the Islamic Military Alliance is silent over the terrorism in [Myanmar],” he said. The rally terminated peacefully around 6pm with the announcement that JI will launch a protest rally from Lahore to Islamabad on Sept 11.

The third rally was taken out by the women wing of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf at the Covered Market and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek held its protest in Aabpara. PPP activists also protested outside the National Press Club.

None of these organisations had taken permission from the Deputy Commissioner’s Office despite the imposition of section 144 in the city.

Protestors in Rawalpindi burnt effigies of Myanmar premier Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar flag and demanded the Myanmar ambassador to Pakistan be sent back.

Leaders and activists of the JUI-F and Jamiat-i-Ulema Pakistan protested outside the Rawalpindi Press Club and on Peshawar Road. The protestors held placards and banners inscribed with slogans against the Myanmar army and prime minister and they also shouted slogans against the USA and the European countries for being silent over the atrocities being committed by the Myanmar army and monks.

Speakers at the protests urged the government to take concrete steps to stop the Myanmar army and monks from killing innocent Muslims. They also called on the UN to initiate action and save the Muslims in Myanmar. They urged Bangladesh to allow Muslim refugees in and demanded that Pakistan should sever diplomatic ties with Myanmar.

The Difah-i-Pakistan Council of the Jamat-ud-Dawa also held a protest. JUD leader Masool Khaleeq-ur-Rehman said the world should come together to stop the atrocities being committed in Myanmar and said the UN has kept criminally silent over the issue. He also urged Bangladesh to open its borders for the refugees and said the JUD will send aid for them.

The Pakistan Awami Tehreek held its protest outside the Rawalpindi Press Club.

Many religious and political parties and various other organisations in Taxila also held protests against the killing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and called on the government to help stop the genocide.

Speakers criticised Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi for her silence and demanded she give up her Nobel prize and that a criminal case be registered against her for war crimes.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2017