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Protestors Hope To Draw Attention To Genocide

Published Oct. 4, 2012 in Advisor & Source Newspapers
By Sean Delaney

Calling for greater media coverage of atrocities being committed against Rohingya Muslims in Burma (Myanmar), a group of about a dozen protesters marched Sept. 28 with signs held high outside the Detroit News/Detroit Free Press facility on 16 Mile and Mound roads in Sterling Heights.

“We are here protesting the media silence on the genocide taking place in Burma,” said William Antoun of the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

According to Antoun, Rohingya Muslims are an ethnic minority in Burma and are considered by the United Nations to be “one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.” The group faces religious and ethnic discrimination by the Myanmar military regime, which does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens.

“They’re being treated as foreigners, even though they’re indigenous people,” Antoun said. Groups like the Burma Task Force USA (www.BurmaMuslims.org) allege that the Myanmar government has “put limits on the Rohingya’s access to education, their ability to marry and have children, as well as their right to religious freedom.” The group also claims that Rohingya women are routinely subjected to sexual assaults and the men are often sent to concentration camps.

“This has been going on for a long time, but this latest explosion of violence is the worst yet,” Antoun said. “There have been millions of people killed over the past several years. This is genocide.”

Antoun said groups like the Michigan Muslim Community Council and Burma Task Force USA seek to educate people about the atrocities being committed in the region, and have organized similar protests at locations throughout the country in an effort to raise awareness.

“We’re going to bring the media’s attention to it because there has been a virtual blackout in the U.S. media about this issue,” he said.

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