Yangon, Myanmar,10 February 2017-VOA:- A Malaysian ship carrying 2,300 metric tons (2,535 tons) of humanitarian aid for the Rohingya Muslim minority arrived in Yangon port on Thursday. Government officials welcomed the ship as dozens of Buddhist monks protested, denying that the ethnic group Rohingya even exists.
The ship, delivering food and emergency supplies worth $1.1 million, arrived following a violent campaign against the Rohingya in Rakhine state, where most members of the Muslim minority live in the Buddhist-majority nation.
The aid arrived days after the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report accusing Myanmar's security forces of carrying out a campaign of rape, torture and mass killings against the Rohingya.
On Thursday, Buddhist monks protested outside the port. "We want them to know that we have no Rohingya here," said Thuseitta, a monk from the Yangon chapter of the Patriotic Myanmar Monks Union.
Organizers of the aid shipment said they trusted the Myanmar government to deliver the supplies as promised, despite its record of discrimination against the Rohingya.
Last month, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak criticized Myanmar for letting the abuses continue. Malaysia is a Muslim-majority nation.
When Malaysia proposed the flotilla in December, Myanmar officials said they would turn it away. In January, they said they'd permit the vessel, but that it had to dock in Yangon instead of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine.
"We have to respect Myanmar's sovereignty," said Razali Ramli, from the 1Putera Club Malaysia, which helped organize the shipment along with a coalition of nongovernment organizations. "We hand over the aid in good faith."
A Muslim ethnic group, the Rohingya have been denied citizenship despite having lived in Myanmar for generations. The U.N. has referred to them as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.
The conflict in Myanmar has been simmering for years, but there are signs that it is escalating into an armed insurgency, according to a recent report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), an NGO that works to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts.
The army launched its most recent crackdown in October following attacks on guard posts near the Bangladesh border that killed nine police officers.