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Protesters Hope To Draw Attention To Genocide (October 01, 2012)

This group of protestors gathered Sept. 28 outside the Detroit News/Free Press facility on Mound Road and Metropolitan Parkway to call attention to what they claim is a lack of media coverage regarding atrocities being committed against Muslims in Burma.
Calling for greater media coverage of atrocities being committed against Rohingya Muslims in Burma (Myanmar), a group of about a dozen protestors marched Sept. 28 with signs held high outside the Detroit News/Detroit Free Press facility on 16 Mile and Mound roads in Sterling Heights.
“We are here protesting the media silence on the genocide taking place in Burma,” said William Antoun of the Michigan Muslim Community Council.
According to Antoun, Rohingya Muslims are an ethnic minority in Burma and are considered by the United Nations to be “one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.” The group faces religious and ethnic discrimination by the Myanmar military regime, which does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens.
“They’re being treated as foreigners, even though they’re indigenous people,” Antoun said.
Groups like the Burma Task Force USA (www.Burma Muslims.org) allege that the Myanmar government has “put limits on the Rohingya’s access to education, their ability to marry and have children, as well as their right to religious freedom.” The group also claims that Rohingya women are routinely subjected to sexual assaults and the men are often sent to concentration camps.
“This has been going on for a long time, but this latest explosion of violence is the worst yet,” Antoun said. “There have been millions of people killed over the past several years. This is genocide.”
Antoun said groups like the Michigan Muslim Community Council and Burma Task Force USA seek to educate people about the atrocities being committed in the region, and have organized similar protests at locations throughout the country in an effort to raise awareness.
“We’re going to bring the media’s attention to it because there has been a virtual blackout in the U.S. media about this issue,” he said.
Antoun said he hopes that greater media attention on the issue will put pressure on state and federal officials, who will in turn put pressure on Myanmar officials to resolve the conflict.
“That’s why we’re here,” he said. “We need the media to put pressure on our state department to acknowledge what’s happening, and put pressure on the leaders of Myanmar to stop and recognize human rights. We need to do something.”
Contact Sean Delaney at 586-323-8127 or sean.delaney@advisorsource.com. Follow him on Twitter @sdelaney81 or on Facebook at Sean Delaney.