Islamabad/ Peshawar/ Karachi
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 the 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 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.
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.
“If our leader gives the call, we will lay down our lives for the Myanmar Muslims,” one protester, Maulana Ahmed, said
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.
But police appeared relaxed as the demonstrators, some armed with batons, showed no signs of trying to go further into the diplomatic area.
Demonstrators gathered outside Quetta Press Club carrying flags and banners reading “No to Burma”, “No to the US” and “Stop Muslim genocides”, and chanted slogans against the Burmese government.
Maulana Wali Turabi, the JUI-F Quetta chief, told flag-waving supporters that “Pakistan must break diplomatic relations with Burma.”
Lawyers in Quetta boycotted the courts to condemn the violence against the Rohingyas.
Protest rallies were also carried out in Peshawar and different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Friday.
A large number of protesters, including members of various political and religious parties, traders, and several other organisations staged protests at the press club to condemn the atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
The protesters were also holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans against the Burmese government.
They urged the Pakistani government to sever diplomatic relations with Myanmar government and expel its ambassador immediately.
The protesters criticised Muslim countries over their silence on the Myanmar issue.
Traders also took to the streets in Peshawar’s Saddar Bazaar in protest.
They demanded that the government should break its silence and announce open support to the Muslims of Myanmar.
In Malakand district, under the aegis of United Traders Union (UTU) in the Skhakot area, thousands of people held a demonstration demanding that Muslim countries around the world to take serious notice of the issue of the displacement and death of thousands of Rohingya Muslims.
Led by UTU President Hameedullah Khan, people holding placards and banners inscribed with different slogans took to the streets and criticised various world organisations for their silence over the violence against the Rohingya Muslims.
The rally marched through different areas of Skhakot and converged into a big public meeting at General Bus Stop.