KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Malaysia on Wednesday (Aug 30) in support of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority after renewed violence forced thousands to flee the country.
Fresh fighting broke out in Rakhine state last week between security forces and Rohingya militants after the militants staged raids on police posts.
The violence is still raging, and at least 110 people are so far confirmed dead while at least 18,500 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Fighting in Rakhine often prompts anger in Muslim-majority Malaysia. On Wednesday about 1,000 protesters - most of whom were believed to be Rohingya - gathered near a major road in Kuala Lumpur calling for an end to violence against the minority.
Some of the demonstrators wept and claimed that their families were being killed, while others waved banners that read "Stop Rohingya genocide" and "Save Rohingya".
The demonstration was peaceful but about 20 protesters were arrested for alleged immigration offences.
A smaller protest was also held outside the Myanmar embassy.
"We are demanding (Myanmar) stops this violence against the Rohingya," said Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, leading the embassy group.
There are almost 60,000 Rohingya refugees in Malaysia, according to the United Nations, where they form part of a large workforce of immigrants doing low-skilled jobs spurned by locals in the relatively affluent country.
Persecution of the Rohingya, reviled as illegal immigrants by the majority Buddhist population in Myanmar, has caused much anger in Malaysia and across the Muslim world.