A group of Rohingya Muslims from Burma, also known as Myanmar, have staged a brief demonstration outside the Burmese embassy in Washington. The group called on the government in Rangoon to stop violence and oppression against their community.
Clashes between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims have spread from Rakhine state to other areas of Burma. Both sides blame the other for the fighting, which has claimed hundreds of lives and forced tens of thousands from their homes since June 2012. While many Buddhists have lost their homes and lives, most of the dead and displaced are Muslim.
In Washington Thursday, Rohingya gathered outside the Burmese embassy to protest the violence and what they say are discriminatory policies by the government in Rangoon.
Event Coordinator Yusef Iqbal says Rohingyas should have full citizenship rights in Burma.
“They need to recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group. Rohingyas have served in the cabinet and as a recognized ethnic group. Burmese history has that. There are ethnic Burmese radio programs with Rohingya ethnic programs. Rohingyas are part of Burma and has been part of Burma, and will always be part of Burma," said Iqbal.
The Burmese government classifies the Rohingya as "immigrants" and refers to them as “Bengalis,” thus making them ineligible for citizenship.
But Rangoon denies allegations that Rohingya suffer oppression or abuse.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.