Islamic bloc urges resolution of Rohingya crisis
WASHINGTON—The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has written to Burmese President Thein Sein, urging him to address the plight of the Rohingya minority community in accordance with the accepted practices of international human rights.
In the letter, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu sought assurances from the Burmese president for the safety and security of the Rohingyas as citizens of the country, and called for an end to all intimidation and oppression against them. Ihsanoglu also called on Thein Sein to take appropriate steps to carry out prompt and effective investigations of the atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims since June 3, and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Ihsanoglu assured Then Sein of the OIC’s readiness to cooperate with the Burmese government to advise and assist in the repatriation process of Muslim ethnic minority in the country and to help create a climate of trust and confidence.
OIC letters were also sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, urging them to use their good offices and influence with the Burmese government to bring about an immediate resolution of the issue.
Earlier this month, Ihsanoglu had strongly condemned the alleged repression and violation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State, resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians, and the burning of their homes and mosques.
Ihsanoglu made no mention of the allegations that Rohingyas had carried out reciprocal acts against Arakanese Buddhists.
Noting that the recent restoration of democracy in the country had raised hopes in the international community that oppression against Rohingya Muslims citizens would end and that they would be able to enjoy equal rights and opportunities, the OIC secretary-general, however, said that the recent violence against them had caused great alarm and concern to the international Muslim community.
The OIC said it was “shocked by the unfortunate remarks” of President Thein Sein disowning Rohingya Muslims as citizens of Burma.
The 57-member OIC includes all the nations of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia and other countries with strong Muslim populations, encompassing some 1.6 billion people worldwide.
In its mandate, the OIC says it seeks to safeguard the well-being of Muslims around the world. It has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, and has criticized Israel for its continuous use of state terrorism over the years. It has accused Thailand of committing human rights abuses against its Muslim minority in the southern states of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani. And India’s membership is blocked, vetoed by Pakistan, due to its occupation of parts of Kashmir.
In 1999, the bloc adopted the OIC Convention on Combating International Terrorism. It does not recognize groups such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but does allow observer status to the Moro National Liberation Front, thereby blocking the membership of the Philippines.
By Lalit K Jha
26 July 2012