Thousands of Rohingya refugees staged protests for justice Saturday, the first anniversary of a Myanmar military crackdown that forced them to flee to camps in Bangladesh.
About 700,000 of the Muslim minority poured across the border after attacks by the Myanmar military and Buddhist groups that the United Nations has likened to ethnic cleansing.
Thousands held peaceful marches and attended rallies chanting, “We want justice from the UN.” At the Kutupalong camp, a giant banner proclaimed: “Never Again: Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day. 25 August, 2018.”
Some wore bandanas emblazoned with the slogan “Save Rohingya” while others waved flags.
Other marches and gatherings were planned across what has become the world’s largest refugee camp, activists told AFP.
Rohingya militants staged attacks on Myanmar police posts, Aug. 25, 2017, last year sparking the crackdown in which an unknown number of Rohingya were killed. Many have arrived in the Bangladesh camps with stories of rape, torture and villages burned to the ground.
Myanmar authorities have insisted their forces only targeted radicals. They have made an agreement with Bangladesh to take back refugees, but no progress has been made on returns and the Rohingya insist they will not go back unless their safety is guaranteed.
“We are here remember to August 25. We want justice,” said Mohammad Hossain, a 40-year-old protester at Kutupalong. “We want them to recognize us as Rohingya. We are very sad because we are not in our native land. Everyone wants justice. We are complaining about this to the world.”
Another protester, Noor Kamal, added: “We faced genocide. Last year, August 25, we faced genocide in Myanmar. We want justice for that.”