06/08/2015 03:58 pm ET

Malala Speaks Out In Support Of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims

ODD ANDERSEN via Getty Images

Malala Yousafzai is calling on world leaders and officials in Myanmar to stop the persecution of the country’s Rohingya Muslims.

“The Rohingyas deserve citizenship in the country where they were born and have lived for generations. They deserve equal rights and opportunities,” the 17-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner said in a statement. “They deserve to be treated like we all deserve to be treated -– with dignity and respect.”

Stripped of citizenship and subject to violence and discrimination, the Rohingya Muslims have been fleeing Myanmar in recent months. Thousands of migrants have been rescued off the coasts of neighboring countries after escaping by boat.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has denied that the Rohingya are being persecuted in the majority Buddhist country.

However, multiple international human rights groups, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have spoken out against the persecution of the Rohingya. The United Nations refugee agency has called them one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

Yousafzai is an education campaigner and girls’ rights activist. She co-founded the Malala Fund after she was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for her progressive ideas. The organization has supported girls in Pakistan, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Yousafzai became interested in the plight of refugees while working to secure access to education for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.

“Today and every day, I stand with the Rohingyas,” Yousafzai said in the statement. “And I encourage people everywhere to do so.”



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