Myanmar's Buddhist hardliners, monks protest in Rakhine against Rohingya migrant rescues
June 14, 2015
YANGON -- Buddhist hardliners backed by monks protested in Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state on Sunday against help being offered to desperate migrants found adrift on boats in the Bay of Bengal.
The rescues have infuriated Buddhist hardliners who want the Rohingya - one of the world's most persecuted minorities - expelled from Myanmar altogether and say the central government should not help those stranded in the Bay of Bengal.
Around 500 people, backed by dozens of monks, gathered under heavy rain on Sunday in the state capital Sittwe chanting slogans, a witness who joined the protest told AFP by phone. The witness' account was confirmed by a protest leader who said simultaneous demonstrations would take place in 10 townships across the state.
"We are protesting against Bengalis that were sent to Rakhine State," Mr Aung Htay, a protest leader in Sittwe, told AFP. Most Myanmar nationals, including the government, use the term Bengali to describe the Rohingya, many of whom have lived in the region for generations.