Myanmar ruling party holds harmony rally as Rohingya flee

A Hindu man holding portrait of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi stands as he takes part in inter-religious gathering of prayers for peace at Aung San stadium Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Thousands of supporters from different religious groups attended Tuesday's gathering organized by ruling National League for Democracy party and prayed for peace. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
Myanmar Christian nuns and other religious members attend an inter-religious gathering of prayers for peace at Aung San stadium Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Thousands of supporters from different religious groups attended Tuesday's gathering organized by ruling National League for Democracy party and prayed for peace. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
Supporters of Myanmar ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party hold portraits of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and candles as they pray during an inter-religious gathering of prayers for peace at Aung San stadium Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Thousands of supporters from different religious groups attended Tuesday's gathering organized by ruling National League for Democracy party and prayed for peace. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
Phyo Min Thein, right, Yangon region chief minister, lights a candle during an inter-religious gathering of prayers for peace at Aung San stadium Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Thousands of supporters from different religious groups attended Tuesday's gathering organized by ruling National League for Democracy party and prayed for peace. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
Supporters of Myanmar ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party hold portraits of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and candles as they pray during an inter-religious gathering of prayers for peace at Aung San stadium Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Thousands of supporters from different religious groups attended Tuesday's gathering organized by ruling National League for Democracy party and prayed for peace. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
Cardinal Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, attends an inter-religious gathering of prayers for peace at Aung San stadium Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Thousands of supporters from different religious groups attended Tuesday's gathering organized by ruling National League for Democracy party and prayed for peace. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
Supporters of Myanmar ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) raise portraits of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi during an inter-religious gathering of prayers for peace at Aung San stadium Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Thousands of supporters from different religious groups attended Tuesday's gathering organized by ruling National League for Democracy party and prayed for peace. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
Myanmar Muslim religious leader Hafiz Mufti Ali delivers a speech during an inter-religious gathering of prayers for peace at Aung San stadium Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Thousands of supporters from different religious groups attended Tuesday's gathering organized by ruling National League for Democracy party and prayed for peace. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar's ruling party has held an interfaith rally that it said would promote religious harmony as thousands of Rohingya Muslims continue to flee persecution in northern Rakhine state.

In Yangon, around 20,000 people lit candles in a soccer stadium on Tuesday night and said prayers.

A Muslim religious leader, Hafiz Mufti Ali, addressed the crowd from a podium. Video showed Buddhist monks and men wearing Muslim skullcaps sitting apart.

More than half a million Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh after Myanmar security forces carried out what they called clearance operations in response to attacks on police posts by Muslim insurgents in August.

The U.N. has called it "textbook ethnic cleansing."

Myanmar's Buddhist majority denies that Rohingya Muslims are a separate ethnic group and regards them as illegal immigrants.

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