Around fifteen hundred people attended a solidarity meeting, titled “Rohingya Muslims and the Silent Genocide” at the London Muslim Centre on Friday 8 September 2017.

The event was co-organised by the Rohingya Minority Crisis Group (RMCG), Muslim Voices, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, Muslim Association of Britain, Restless Beings, and SAM Watch in the wake of the recent atrocities carried out by Burmese military against the minority Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state. A mass exodus has commenced since the beginning of hostilities, where over 300,000 Rohingya Muslims according to the UN have fled Burma into Bangladesh. There have also been horrific reports of Rohingya Muslims who are fleeing the violence of being targeted with landmines on the border.

Speakers at the event included politicians, journalists and activists whom all shared their collective experience and previous campaign work. Dr Abdullah Faliq, a member of the East London Mosque Trust and chair of RMCG who co-chaired the event with Aanika Malik, member of the Muslim Association of Britain, described the current violence against Rohingya Muslims as ‘the unfolding of brutal genocide while the international response shamelessly remains muted’.

Harun Rashid Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “It is imperative for the UK government to act. We must call for embargos and sanctions on Burma just as we do with Zimbabwe or Syria, states that kill their own people.”

Carl Buckley, Barrister at Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, offered legal perspectives on the atrocity meted out against the Rohingya. “We are dealing with the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians who are being murdered”, he said. Carl went onto describe Aung San Suu Kyi’s government as being “the exact same position as the Syrian regime and those that are fighting for freedom and human rights are being described as terrorists.”

Assed Baig, prominent journalist and broadcaster, shared his experience of travelling to Burma and meeting with the persecuted Rohingya Muslims in camps, which were heavily controlled by the military. He recounted receiving a report “where Rohingya women were being kept in a Burmese military base and used as sex slaves.”

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, who chairs the APPG on Democracy in Burma said: “I saw first-hand what has happened in those camps. Where children were dying and women were dying in the camps after the violence. Sadly, despite the move towards the democratic transition things have not got better. We, in Parliament, are appealing on our government to step-up and to take action against the Burmese government.”

Tun Khin Ghaffar, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, said “We have seen state-organised ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya. The Rohingya situation has become much worse after Aung San Suu Kyi came to power.”

Kiri Tunks, Vice-President of the National Union of Teachers, vowed to bring the support of the teachers and trade unions to highlight the issue to them. She said, “I consider myself a global citizen, and whatever rights I have for myself, I like to think everyone else has those rights too. So we do have a duty to speak out and act.”

Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK, said: In the last two weeks we’ve seen a military offensive that has displaced hundreds of thousands. I’ve been at Burma Campaign UK for twenty years, and I’ve never seen something like this. This is unprecedented.”

Hakan Camuz, lawyer, human rights consultant, and chairman of the Turken Foundation, shared a story from 1912 in which Burmese Muslims at that time donated money to help Muslims in Turkey during the First Balkan War. He called for unity amongst Muslims around the world.

Other speakers included Mabrur Ahmed, Co-Director at Restless Beings; Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, former Chairman, East London Mosque; and Syed Ikhlaas, lead organiser for Lonely Orphans and SAM Watch.

Messages of support were received from other prominent figures who were not able make it to the event, they included Professor Tariq Ramadan, Oxford University; Andy Slaughter MP; Baroness Sheehan; journalist Peter Oborne; Lord Nazir Ahmed; and Daniel Hannan MEP.

The UK charity, Human Appeal ran a fundraising session after the event speeches, which were led by Ajmal Masroor, Imam and broadcaster. The total figure raised during the half an hour fundraiser was over £80,000.

This event was live streamed and can be seen here in full: