Protesters condemn statement at UN by Philippine foreign secretary who failed to address persecution of minority in Myanmar
Muslims protest in Manila to call for better treatment of Myanmar's Rohingya people. (Photo by Angie de Silva)
Two hundred Muslims held a prayer rally in the Philippine capital Sept. 29, to seek a halt to attacks against Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya minority.
Protesters, led by Imam Camar Matangcop of Manila's Golden Mosque, said they identified with the Rohingya's loss of homes and communities because of the ongoing conflict in Marawi, the country's only Muslim majority city in southern Philippines.
The protest came after the Philippine foreign secretary rejected charges from Malaysia that a recent statement he made on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations "did not reflect a consensus" on the suffering of the Rohingya.
Alan Peter Cayetano, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 24, condemned attacks against Myanmar security forces and others acts of violence and destruction.
He also expressed support for Myanmar's "effort to bring peace, stability, rule of law" but did not refer to the violence directed at the Rohingya.
Pendatun Disimban, a Muslim trader, told ucanews.com Manila Muslims were disappointed by Cayetano's statement.
"We had earlier asked the Philippine government to speak up for our Muslim brethren in Myanmar," said Disimban, a spokesman for the loose coalition that staged the protest.
Matangcop expressed "shock and outrage at the unrelenting cruelty of the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya civilians at the hands of Myanmar authorities."
The Myanmar government is implementing a policy of "genocide" against the Rohingya, the imam said.
"It is widespread and directed toward the extermination of the Rohingya on the basis of their racial, ethnic and religion affiliation," he said.
The Manila rally urged Myanmar to grant citizenship to the Rohingya, many of whom have lived in the country for generations.
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