Dozens of Arab citizens of Israel demonstrated outside the embassy of Myanmar in Tel Aviv to protest the treatment of Rohingya Muslims by the Rangoon authorities.
Monday’s protest was organized by the Islamic Movement in Israel.
The United Nations refugee agency has reported that 270,000 people have fled to neighboring Bangladesh in the last three weeks. It said there were reports, backed by satellite imagery, of “security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages” and committing extrajudicial killings.
Protest leader Ibrahim Sarsur said the crowd gathered to condemn what he called “atrocities” committed by the Myanmar government.
“It’s the responsibility of the international community to move, to act, immediately to stop the bloodshed,” said Sarsur, who is also a lawmaker from the Joint (Arab) List. “I think it is a crime against humanity.”
The moderate Islamic Movement is separate from the outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, considered an extremist group by Israeli authorities.
Earlier Monday, the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said that the violence and injustice faced by the Rohingya “seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Zeid, who is a Jordanian prince, denounced how “another brutal security operation is underway in Rakhine state — this time, apparently on a far greater scale.” He noted the UN refugee agency says 270,000 people from Myanmar have fled to neighboring Bangladesh in the last three weeks, and pointed to satellite imagery and reports of “security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages” and committing extrajudicial killings.
“The Myanmar government should stop pretending that the Rohingyas are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages,” he added. He called it a “complete denial of reality” that hurts the standing of Myanmar, a country that had until recently — by opening up politics to civilian control — enjoyed “immense good will.”
“Because Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators, the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed, but the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” he said.
Zeid said he was “further appalled” by reports that Myanmar authorities planting land mines along the border.