Burma: Thousands of Buddhist monks hold anti-Muslim rally in Rakhine
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Burma: Thousands of Buddhist monks hold anti-Muslim rally in Rakhine

BUDDHIST Monks in Burma gathered on Sunday in the thousands in the strife-ridden Rakhine State to hold a fresh round of protests against the Rohingya Muslim community.

The monks were demonstrating against a government directive to refer to the Rohingya as part of the “Muslim communities in Rakhine” following a row over the “correct” term to describe the persecuted ethnic community, according to the AFP.

The protests came barely a week after Buddhist mobs torched two mosques in the country. The sectarian violence has left scores dead since 2012.

A protest organizer in the Rakhine capital of Sittwe, Kyawt Sein, said: “We reject the term ‘Muslim communities in Rakhine State’.”

He added that more than 1,000 people, including monks, took part in the rally in the state capital.

A similar protest in the town of Thandwe also drew around the same amount of protesters who shouted slogans such as “Protect Rakhine State”.

The group is also opposed to the usage of the term ‘Rohingya’ to describe the minority group.

Phoe Thar Lay, a leader of a local Rakhine youth group, said: “Bengalis should be called Bengalis.”

SEE ALSO: Burma: Officials hesitate to take action after Buddhist-Muslim dispute, fearing further violence

In late June, the U.N. human rights chief urged Burma’s new government to end discrimination and human rights violations against the Rohingya Muslims and other minorities.

Zeid Ra-ad al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on Ang Sang Suu Kyi’s government to eradicate restrictions of movement, forced labor and sexual abuse against the Rohingya Muslims, among other violations.

The 18-page report, requested by the U.N. Human Rights Council, said it found a “pattern of gross violations against the Rohingya… [which] suggest a widespread or systematic attack” which has given rise to the possibility of “crimes against humanity”.

SEE ALSO: Burma: US envoy says Muslim minority has a right to call themselves ‘Rohingya’

It calls on the Burmese government to abolish “all discriminatory local orders” in the western Rakhine state, where some 120,000 Rohingya and Kaman Muslims live in camps for internally displaces people.

The Rakhine state also has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country, according to the report, and non-citizens are barred from studying certain professions – including medicine, economics and engineering.