Suhakam chief: Rohingyas ‘stretching’ sympathy with street protest

File picture shows Rohingya workers who tried to join a protest being detained under the peaceful gathering Act and for documentation purpose, according to police, near the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur August 30, 2017. ― Reuters pic
File picture shows Rohingya workers who tried to join a protest being detained under the peaceful gathering Act and for documentation purpose, according to police, near the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur August 30, 2017. ― Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chairman had reportedly criticised the Rohingyas for taking to the streets to protest the unrest in Myanmar on Wednesday.

Singapore’s Channel News Asia quoted Tan Sri Razali Ismail as saying that the Rohingyas “shouldn’t have stretched” the sympathy they have by holding a street demonstration, which reportedly turned violent.

He said instead the protesters should have used the proper channel in “an orderly fashion”.

“There’s a lot of sympathy for Rohingyas here but they shouldn’t have stretched it ... I wish they would make representation to the government in an orderly fashion. I do not think taking to the streets in a foreign country is the way out,” he said.

Razali was speaking on the sidelines of the Democracy in Southeast Asia: Achievements, Challenges, Prospects conference co-organised by Suhakam and the Kofi Annan Foundation.

More than a thousand Rohingyas descended on the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to join a planned protest by Muslim NGOs outside the Myanmar embassy here, to call for an end to the bloodshed in Rakhine.

However, the protesters were stopped from marching towards the embassy by the police, prompting them to take to the streets instead.

Close to a hundred were arrested for defying orders to disperse and one attempted to set himself on fire after dousing himself in petrol.

The incident surprisingly drew criticism from many Malay Muslims, even as the community is known to be sympathetic towards the Rohingyas, who are also Muslims.

However, human rights groups and activists said the Rohingyas had the right to assemble.