Jewish World Watch staged a public Rally for the Rohingya on Nov. 8 in front of the Myanmar Consulate, decrying “ethnic cleansing” and facing off with deniers of the crisis.
LOS ANGELES — More than 50 Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and others turned out during the noon hour on Wednesday, Nov. 8, to march and chant slogans protesting the persecution of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar government. The Rally for the Rohingya, organized by Jewish World Watch, took place in front of the Los Angeles Myanmar Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard, in the heart of Koreatown.
The protestors decried an “Ethnic Cleansing” of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority people who have lived in the Rakhine State in Myanmar (Burma) for centuries. Although the Rohingya were denied citizenship under a 1982 Myanmar nationality law, some 1 million Rohingya lived in Myanmar before the violence against them began in late August of this year. Since that time, some 600,000 have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, where they live in refugee camps without adequate supplies. Many more have been killed in their villages, and their homes burned, reportedly by the Myanmar military.
Speakers at the Nov. 8 rally included Salaam Al-Marayati, President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, as well as three noted rabbis who offered prayers, including Noah Farkas (Valley Beth Shalom, Encino), Jocee Hudson (Temple Israel of Hollywood) and Jason Fruithandler (Sinai Temple in Los Angeles). Attendees also heard from members of the Los Angeles Rohingya community and from a Bangladeshi native, Jaran Islare, who described the situation for the Rohingya in refugee camps in her country.
Wednesday’s protestors carried signs and chanted for more than an hour, and handed out flyers with information about Congressional bills being considered to sanction the Myanmar military and provide humanitarian aid to the Rohinyga refugees (see box below for more on the bills and to take action). Demonstrators called for the Myanmar military to cease all hostilities against the Rohingya and urged the country’s civilian leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out and take action to stop the violence. Suu Kyi has been strongly criticized by peace activists for inaction on this issue.
In addition to the protestors, a group of counter-protestors stood nearby throughout the protest, chanting “Stop your propaganda” and “There is no genocide in Myanmar!” One counter-protestor said that their government’s position is, “Rohingya are illegal aliens.”
Since late August 2017, the Myanmar military have been reported to be burning Rohingya homes and villages, raping women and murdering children. Over 600,000 Rohingya people have been systematically attacked and forced to flee their homes into neighboring Bangladesh; bringing the total Rohingya population in Bangladesh to more than 800,000.