Indonesians Protest Persecution of Rohingya Muslims

By The Associated Press 25 November 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Hundreds of Indonesians, angered over the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Burma, protested Thursday outside the Burmese Embassy in the Indonesian capital.

Jakarta police spokesman Awi Setiyono said at least 200 people joined the demonstration. They marched in three groups to the embassy, which was guarded by dozens of police, and staged a noisy but peaceful protest.

The protesters held big banners that read, “Stop Muslim genocide in Burma,” and shouted “Save Rohingya.”

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, is a strong supporter of the Rohingya cause in predominantly-Buddhist Burma.

An anti-Burma protest is also planned Friday by a youth group in Muslim-majority Malaysia, and the country’s sports minister has called for Malaysia to withdraw from a Southeast Asian football tournament that Burma will participate in.

The Burma government does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens, though they have lived in the country for generations. Persecution of Rohinyga has escalated in the past several years and they face violence instigated by Buddhist hardliners and institutionalized discrimination.

High-definition satellite images analyzed by Human Rights Watch show the destruction this month of 1,250 buildings in five Rohingya villages in Arakan State, where the military is carrying out counter-insurgency operations.

Ko Ko Linn, an activist of the Arakan Rohingya National Organization, has said that more than 100 people have been killed and more than 1,000 homes destroyed in the crackdown.

The claims are impossible to verify, as is the government’s account of events, because of restrictions on journalists and aid workers entering the region.

Burma’s presidential spokesman U Zaw Htay accused Human Rights Watch of exaggeration after the release of an initial set of satellite imagery that showed 430 destroyed buildings in three villages.

Indonesian extremists responded to sectarian violence in Burma that killed scores of people in 2013 with a plot to bomb the Burmese Embassy. More than a dozen militants were sentenced to prison for involvement in the plot.