Thousands of demonstrators gathered Monday in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, at the invitation of the leader of the Russian republic of the Caucasus, Ramzan Kadyrov, to protest the persecution of Burma’s Muslim minority of Rohingya.
We demand the punishment of the perpetrators and the opening of an investigation into crimes against humanity, “Kadyrov told the crowd gathered in the Chechen capital.
Kadyrov, who rules Chechnya with an iron fist, is an ally of President Vladimir Putin but has been seeking for years to impose himself as a leader in the Muslim world.
About 1,000 Muslims gathered Sunday in Moscow to pray before the Burmese embassy during an unauthorized gathering of authorities and police closely watched.
The demonstrations, organized by Kadyrov’s initiative, appear to be the result of a rare difference of views between the Chechen president and the Kremlin.
Russia is a partner of Burma and the two countries signed a military cooperation agreement last year, including supplying Burma with combat aircraft and artillery.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday it was “carefully watching” the ongoing events in Burma and expressed “concern over information on ongoing violence that has caused civilian and government casualties.”
The United Nations said Monday that at least 87,000 people, mostly Rohingyas, had fled violence in Burma since August 25 to seek asylum in neighboring Bangladesh.
In January 2015, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Grozny at the invitation of Kadyrov, condemning the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a French week, two weeks before an attack on the newspaper’s headquarters in Paris.