1 year after fleeing Myanmar, Rohingya seek justice for dead
KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh — Thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees on Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the attacks that sent them fleeing to safety in Bangladesh, praying they can return to their homes in Myanmar and demanding justice for their dead relatives and neighbors.
More than 15,000 gathered in the morning on a hilltop in the Kutupalong refugee camp, part of a sprawling web of settlements that are now home to nearly 900,000 Rohingya who have fled Myanmar to escape violence.
The camps exploded in size last year after Myanmar’s army launched a wave of anti-Rohingya attacks Aug. 25, with some
700,000 Rohingya eventually pouring across the border. Thousands were killed in the violence.
“25th August — Black Day,” one banner announced Saturday.
The protesters marched through the muddy camp, chanting slogans such as “No more genocide, we want justice.”
At a mass prayer rally, one speaker repeatedly shouted, “Who are we?” to which the crowd responded in chorus: “Rohingya! Rohingya!”
Most people cried as they raised their hands while an imam who led the prayer sought God’s blessings, saying, “Please consider the people who have been killed as martyrs and place them in heaven.”
While Rohingya have lived for centuries in Myanmar, they have long been treated as outsiders, Muslims in a largely Buddhist nation who are denied citizenship and many basic rights.
More than 1 million Rohingya refugees currently live in Bangladesh.
Rohingya refugees burst into tears at a protest march Saturday in Ukhia, Bangladesh, after a camp ceremony marking the anniversary of a military crackdown in Myanmar.