Riz Ahmed, Mindy Kaling and Aziz Ansari — alongside dozens of others, including writer Salman Rushdie — have signed a powerful open letter speaking out against the ethnic cleansing crisis of the Rohingyas, a Muslim ethnic group living in the Southeast Asian sovereign state Myanmar.
“Over the past two months, more than 600,000 Rohingya people have been driven from their homes, had their land destroyed, and endured torture and rape while searching for safety,” the open letter, which was published Friday in The Guardian, began. “Remember what happened in Rwanda? Now, pay attention to Myanmar.”
“Under the guise of fighting insurgency, or terrorism, the Rohingya have suffered what the UN has called a ‘textbook case’ of ethnic cleansing,” the celebrities behind the open letter continued, before adding that since Aug. 25 — when the latest wave of violence began — “almost half the Rohingya population in Myanmar has been driven out.”
TIME had previously noted that, according to a presidential statement approved by the U.N. Security Council, the human rights violations being committed against the Rohingya included “the systematic use of force and intimidation, killing of men, women and children, sexual violence and … the destruction and burning of homes and property.”
TIME also reported that the Myanmar government does not recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group, but as Bengali migrants from Bangladesh who are living in the country illegally.
The letter ends with a plea to the countries in the United Nations to pressure the Myanmar government to “stop these atrocities, grant the Rohingya citizenship, and allow them to return to a place they call home.”
Additionally, the signees of the letter call for the Rohingya crisis to be addressed at the upcoming joint summit between the U.N. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres — who will be attending the summit — said that stopping the violence against the Rohingyas, allowing them to return to their homes and granting them citizenship is “an absolutely essential priority.”