Rohingya stage protest for 'justice' on crackdown anniversary

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Rohingya refugees gather near the fence in the "no man's land" zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh border as seen from Maungdaw, Rakhine state during a government-organized visit for journalists, on Aug 24, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

COX'S BAZAR, BANGLADESH (AFP) - Thousands of Rohingya refugees staged protests for "justice" on the first anniversary of a Myanmar military crackdown that forced them to flee to camps in Bangladesh.

About 700,000 of the Muslim minority crossed the border after attacks by the Myanmar military and Buddhist groups that the United Nations has likened to ethnic cleansing.

Thousands held marches and attended rallies on Saturday (Aug 25), chanting "We want justice from the UN."

At the Kutupalong camp, a giant banner proclaimed: "Never Again: Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day. 25 August, 2018."

Some wore bandanas emblazoned with the slogan "Save Rohingya" while others waved flags.

Other marches and gatherings were planned across what has become the world's biggest refugee camp, activists told AFP.

Rohingya militants staged attacks on Myanmar police posts on Aug 25 last year sparking the crackdown in which an unknown number of Rohingya were killed. Many have arrived in the Bangladesh camps with stories of rape, torture and villages burned to the ground.

Myanmar authorities have insisted their forces only targeted radicals. They have made an agreement with Bangladesh to take back refugees but no progress has been made on returns and the Rohingya insist they will not go back unless their safety is guaranteed.

Mohammad Hossain, a 40-year-old protester at Kutupalong, said "We are here remember to August 25. We want justice.

"We want them to recognise us as Rohingya. We are very sad because we are not in our native land. Everyone wants justice. We are complaining about this to the world."

Another protester, Noor Kamal, added: "We faced genocide. Last year, August 25, we faced genocide in Myanmar. We want justice for that."

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