Hizb ut-Tahrir support Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya Muslims - London
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain organises a large protest opposite the Bangladesh High Commission against the blocking of aid to Rohingya refugees by NGOs and their policy of sending them back to Myanmar.
Approaching a thousand Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain supporters turned up for the protest opposite the High Commission in Kensington and they formed an impressive mass on the pavement opposite with placards and Islamic flags.
They listened attentively to the three speakers, two from Hizb ut-Tahrir including their UK media director, Taji Mustafa, speaking in English, and the other, a community worker from East London in Bengali, and they responded noisily to the speeches, with chanting of support and slogans including
"Muslim Ummah, one Ummah"
"Open borders to the Rohingya Muslims"
The first speaker said that he had been unaware of the Muslims in Myanmar until news began to leak out about their oppression, with terrible stories of rapes and killings, and that there was a terrible hypocrisy in the way the Western media reported events in Myanmar.
Although our press has long paid great attention to the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi until recently the media and Western governments had ignored what was happening to minority tribal groups in Myanmar, including the Muslim Rohingya and the Karen. The story of the Rohingya, who have been persecuted for years, only emerged in the Western press when three international NGOs working in Bangladesh, Médecins Sans Frontières, Action Against Hunger and Muslim Aid UK, were ordered by the Bangladesh government to stop giving aid to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
The leader of the Rohingya Solidarity Organization of Myanmar (RSO), speaking in Pakistan, has alleged that the Bangladesh government has issued orders to its troops to shoot Rohingya refugees entering their country, and there are other reports of them being handed back to the Myanmar authorities.
Arakan or Rakhine, the western coastal state of Myanmar, was an independent kingdom for several thousand years before becoming part of Burma in 1874. Later it came under British rule as a part of India in the days of empire and was transferred to Burma again in 1942. Roughly 25% of its inhabitants are Rohingya Muslims, and these 3/4 million people are described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities. In 1970 the Burmese military government stripped them of their citizenship, giving them 'Foreign Registration Cards'.
There is a long history of Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh, and settling in the south-east coastal area around Cox's Bazaar, and of repeated attempts by Bangladesh to repatriate them to Myanmar, including several agreements between the two governments.
The current violence in Rakhine State between Buddhist Rakhine, Muslim Rakhine, and Muslim Rohingya is said by the RSO to have started on May 28, following the conversion to Islam and marriage to a Muslim man of a Buddhist girl; the Buddhist community then stopped a bus containing Muslim pilgrims and killed some of them and the violence spread. On 10 June, the Myanmar government declared a state of emergency and sent in the Border Security force, army and police to Rohingya areas and, according to Amnesty International, "Hundreds of mostly men and boys have been detained, with nearly all held incommunicado, and some subjected to ill-treatment."
Amnesty has also received reports of "other human rights abuses against Rohingyas and other Rakhine Muslims– including physical abuse, rape, destruction of property, and unlawful killings – carried out by both Rakhine Buddhists and security forces." Some details were given of incidents, particularly those involving attacks on Muslim women, at today's protest.
Hizb ut-Tahrir call for Muslims to stand united against such persecution and see the only war to prevent such abuses as the formation of an Islamic Khalifah - their organisation's aim of a united Islamic state.
Their protest today was outside the Bangladesh High Commission, and Bangladesh has a roughly 90% Muslim population. Formed out of British India at Partition in 1947 as a Muslim state of East Pakistan, after it gained independence in 1971 adopted in 1972 a secular democratic constitution. The secular principle was contradicted by a presidential decree when the country was under martial law in 1975-7 but was restored in 2010 under the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was featured on a number of the placards at the protest for her government's actions against the Rohingya.