Hundreds of Buddhist hardliners rallied against the former United Nations chief Kofi Annan who visited the Rakhine state of Myanmar today to find a sustainable solution to the religious conflict between the country's Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.
Rakhine, which borders Bangladesh, has been fraught with religious and ethnic tensions since 2012 when violence between the Rakhine Buddhists and the minority muslim community first flared up.
The conflict has led to the displacement of tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, who have been denied citizenship and are not identified as ethnic Muslim minorities.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been leading the country as state counselor and foreign minister since March, has drawn criticism for not being able to alleviate the Rohingya plight. Questions have also been raised on her stance on human rights.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been leading the country as state counselor and foreign minister since March, has drawn criticism for not being able to alleviate the Rohingya plight. She had asked Kofi Annan to lead the advisory commission.
Suu Kyi had asked Annan to lead an advisory commission. The protesters denounced the panel and even followed the convoy into the town where Annan will deliver a speech during his two-day visit in the capital state Sittwe.
"I don't want to see foreigners involved in this commission. I want to see a commission involving people of the Rakhine nationality," Kyaw Zin Wai, a 52-year-old carpenter told Reuters, adding that the two ethnic Rakhine commission members were not "representative" of people in the state.
The protest was called by some leaders in the state's powerful Arakan National Party (ANP), which has criticised the commission, insisting that foreigners cannot understand the history of the area, according to Reuters.
"We want him to come," Hla Kyaw, a Rohingya man living in The Chaung IDP camp, told AFP.
"If he comes, we will raise the issue of our citizenship status and our plight of staying in IDP (internally displaced persons) camps for four years," he added.
(WION with inputs from agencies)