Islamabad/Karachi, Sept 08 (TNS): Thousands of protesters took to the streets of major cities on Friday to condemn a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, with many carrying placards that read, “Shame on Aung San Suu Kyi”.
The largely peaceful rallies were spearheaded by Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), but other political parties and members of the civil society also joined in.
Political leaders including JI chief Sirajul Haq called for an end to the “genocide” of the Rohingya and for Pakistan to break off relations with the government in Myanmar.
The government has previously expressed “deep anguish” at the violence.
Many protesters also slammed Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, over her silence. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has faced criticism for failing to condemn the violence, leaving her global reputation in tatters.
A senior United Nations representative told media that more than 1,000 people may already have been killed in the military-led crackdown, which has seen 270,000 mostly Rohingya civilians flee to Bangladesh in the last two weeks alone.
Others have died trying to flee the fighting in Rakhine state, where witnesses say entire villages have been burned since suspected Rohingya militants launched a series of coordinated attacks on August 25, prompting the crackdown.
In Karachi — which is host to one of the largest Rohingya populations outside of Myanmar — more than 2,000 people demonstrated outside the Karachi Press Club.
In Islamabad a similarly-sized crowd gathered at the entrance to the diplomatic enclave, inside which the Myanmar embassy is situated.
Many carried placards reading: “Why are these Muslims being killed? What is their crime?.”
Security forces with protective riot gear stood nearby and containers blocked off access to the enclave, with some small scuffles.