As hundreds prepare to march in Durban in support of the displaced Rohingya people, the SA Government has been urged to ramp up pressure on the Myanmar military regime, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.
Durban city centre is expected to come to a standstill next Friday when hundreds of people will join a massive multi-faith march to protest against the oppression and ethnic cleansing of the helpless Rohingya people by their own Government – the dictatorial Myanmar regime.
Hundreds will join the unity march from outside the historic Juma Masjid and the Emmanuel Cathedral at 2pm on Friday, September 29, proceeding down Yusuf Dadoo Street (Grey Street) and then left into Pixley Ka Seme Street (West Street) and ending at the Durban City Hall where human rights activists and local dignitaries from all faiths will address the crowds.
In the past two weeks, similar protest marches were organized in Cape Town with over 2000 people descending on Parliament. And in Johannesburg, over 1000 people protested outside the Myanmar Embassy in Pretoria.
The signatories of the Durban protest action are the KZN Palestine Solidarity Front, the South African Muslim Network (SAMNET), and the Pakistan-South Africa Association.
There have appealed to all civil society formations, political parties, religious institutions and trade unions to condemn the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people that has led to a mass exodus of over 400 000 people fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh. They have also urged people of conscience to join the protest action in their hundreds, if not thousands.
In an interview with Al Qalam, Moulana Saleem Ebrahim, co-ordinator of the event, said: “As South Africans, we know about oppression, therefore we must stand against it in all forms and shapes. We stood together against apartheid, so let’s stand together against this genocide.”
Referring to Myanmar’s de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi – a Nobel Peace Laureate – Moulana Ebrahim said it was a “shame that a person receives the highest award for peace….and extermination is taking place under her guard”.
In a media statement, the organizers said the Rohingya have suffered systematic oppression by the military regime in Myanmar for decades. They have been subjected to severe economic, social, education, employment and travel discrimination. Thousands of them have become stateless since the adoption of the restrictive Burmese citizenship law in 1982. Despite years of persecution, their plight has been ignored by the world.
When the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, was recently asked whether he agreed with U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein whether he regarded the tragedy unfolding in Myanmar’s Rakhine State as “ethnic cleansing”, he answered with a question: “When one-third of the Rohingya population had to flee the country, can you find a better word to describe it?”
The organizers of the Durban march say what is more troubling is that Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de-facto leader and Nobel peace laureate, has so far done nothing to help stop the violence. “
Although many world leaders have since condemned the Myanmar Government, no decisive action has been taken,” the organizers said.
“We would like to thank the South African government for their support. However, more must be done by South Africa and the international community to put more pressure on the government of Myanmar to stop the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya.
“We urge the people and government of South Africa to promptly act upon and urge Aung San Suu Kyi’s government on the following:
“To abide by rule of law and refrain from human rights violations; To immediately cease all use of force against the Rohingya people; To provide full safety and protection to the Rohingya people; To allow access to food, humanitarian aid and media into the affected area in Rakhine State; To safely return the civilians to their respective villages; To stop equipping and training of civilian militia populations in the region; To stop using the pretext of “terrorism” to ferment and justify ethnic cleansing; To stop the use of inflammatory speech, imagery and propaganda against the Rohingya people on the state-controlled and privately-owned media outlets in Myanmar.”