Myanmar assailed for Rohingya persecution

ISLAMABAD: The Orga­ni­sation of Islamic Cooper­ation (OIC) on Sunday censured the government of Myanmar over ongoing persecution of Rohingya Muslims and called upon Naypyidaw to accept the UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission to investigate violations of human rights laws and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The OIC members took this stance at a meeting of the heads of state and government of member states held exclusively to discuss the current situation of Rohingya Muslim community on the sidelines of an OIC summit in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The meeting on the Rohingya issue was held on the initiative of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The OIC’s call for Myan­mar coincided with a declaration by Rohingya militants in Myanmar of a unilateral ceasefire, but the Myanmar government announced it would not negotiate with “terrorists”.

The OIC meeting expres­sed grave concern over systematic brutal acts perpetrated by security forces forcing around 270,000 Muslims to displace to Bangladesh besides burning their houses and worship places.

OIC asks Naypyidaw to accept UN fact-finding mission to probe into violation of HR laws

It urged the Myanmar government to take measures to immediately halt the dispersion and discriminatory practices against Rohingya Muslims and attempts to obliterate their religious culture.

They asked the government to eliminate root cause, including the denial of citizenship based on the 1982 Citizenship Act which led to statelessness and deprival of rights to Rohingyas.

The leaders of the Muslim world urged the Myanmar government to take urgent measures for sustainable return of Rohingya refugees and internally and externally displaced population.

Calling for revival of peace through dialogue, the meeting sought early implementation of the commission headed by Kofi Anan on the issue.

It also called the members to join efforts by the international community for lifting restrictions on the freedom of movement in Rakhine state.

Agencies add: Rohingya militants, whose raids allegedly sparked an army crackdown that has seen nearly hundreds of thousands of Muslims flee Mynamar to Bangladesh, declared a unilateral ceasefire but the government said it would not negotiate with “terrorists”.

Bangladesh’s foreign minister said that genocide was being waged in Rakhine state, triggering an exodus of Rohingya Muslims to his country.

“The international community is saying it is a genocide. We also say it is a genocide,” A.H. Mahmood Ali told reporters after briefing diplomats in Dhaka.

Mr Ali met Western and Arab diplomats and the heads of UN agencies based in Bangladesh to seek support for a political solution and humanitarian aid for the Rohingya.

He claimed that the total number of Rohingya refugees in his country had topped 700,000. “It is now a national problem.”

At least two diplomats who attended the briefings said the minister told them as many as 3,000 people might have been killed in the latest round of violence.

The United Nations said 294,000 bedraggled and exhausted Rohingya refugees had arrived in Bangladesh since the militant attacks on Myanmar’s security forces in Rakhine on Aug 25 sparked a military backlash.

Tens of thousands more are believed to be on the move inside the state after more than a fortnight without shelter, food and water.

“The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) hereby declares a temporary cessation of offensive military operations,” the group said in a statement on its Twitter account.

It urged “all humanitarian actors” to resume aid delivery to “all victims of humanitarian crisis irrespective of ethnic or religious background” during the one-month ceasefire until Oct 9.

ARSA called on Myanmar to “reciprocate this humanitarian pause” in fighting.

Myanmar, which has previously labelled ARSA as “terrorists”, appeared to reject the overture. “We have no policy to negotiate with terrorists,” Zaw Htay, a senior government spokesman, tweeted late on Sunday.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has come in for strong international criticism over the military’s treatment of the Rohingya — including the alleged laying of mines along the border to prevent those who fled from returning.

Mainly Buddhist Myanmar does not recognise its stateless Muslim Rohingya community, labelling them as “Bengalis” — illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

At the opening meeting in Astana, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said that terrorism and Islamphobia were damaging the Muslim world the most.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Islam ruled out any extremism and terrorism and always advocated for education, research and development.

OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimen said the Muslim youth were faced with critical situation owing to challenges of extremism, terrorism, poverty and Islamphobia and emphasised for the exchange of scholarships among OIC countries. —Agencies

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