A Turkish civil service union on Wednesday launched an aid campaign with several Turkish NGOs to help Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh after facing persecution from the country’s armed forces.
The campaign of the Confederation of Public Servants Trade Unions (Memur-Sen) began with a total donation of 100,000 Turkish lira ($29,000) to four Turkish nongovernmental organizations, made up of four donations of 25,000 lira ($7,200) apiece to the Turkish Red Crescent, Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), Deniz Feneri Association, and Cansuyu Charity.
Speaking at a press conference launching the campaign at union headquarters, Memur-Sen Chairman Ali Yalcin called helping the Rohingya Muslims a "historical responsibility".
Yalcin stated that anyone can contribute to the campaign by donating via text messages.
Also speaking at the press conference, Turkish Red Crescent Deputy Director Abdurrahman Guvenlioglu stated that the Red Crescent has been operating in Myanmar’s Rakhine state – where the Rohingya are concentrated -- since 2012 and that their services increased after Aug. 25, when a fresh military crackdown began.
Mustafa Koylu, head of the Cansuyu Charity, and Deniz Feneri Association representative Semih Dincer Yetis also said that the work of their groups intensified since violence broke out in Rakhine.
Mustafa Sinan from the IHH said that the relief foundation has been helping in the region for 22 years and that it witnessed persecution of the Rohingya the entire time.
Humanitarian aid assistance in the region is continuing at the highest level, he added.
Since Aug. 25, more than 421,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.
The refugees are fleeing a fresh security operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.
According to Bangladesh, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.
Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the issue at the UN on Tuesday.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel.
In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.
Reporting by Merve Yildizalp; Writing by Meryem Goktas