OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu Photo: OIC
The 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has condemned the newest attacks on Muslim Rohingyas in Burma as reports arrived that an entire Rohingya section in Kyauk Phyu – up to 811 homes – was burned to the ground.
OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said in a statement that the violence during a period marking the end of Ramadan, the annual haj pilgrimage to Mecca, “is deplorable and a blatant violation of human rights.”
The US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said new satellite imagery showed “extensive destruction of homes and other property in a predominantly Rohingya Muslim area of the coastal town of Kyauk Phyu”—one of several areas where new deaths, injuries and destruction of property occurred, in the lastedst round of attacks which started last week.
Human Rights Watch said in a press statement tha it identified 811 destroyed structures on the eastern coastal edge of Kyauk Phyu following arson attacks reportedly conducted on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the satellite images were captured.
“The area of destruction measures 35 acres (14 hectares) and includes 633 buildings and 178 houseboats and floating barges adjacent on the water, all of which were razed,” the rights group said.
“There are no indications of fire damage to the immediate west and east of this zone of destruction,” it said.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at HRW, said the Burmese government “urgently needs to provide security for the Rohingya in Rakhine state who are under vicious attack.”
“Unless the authorities also start addressing the root causes of the violence, it is only likely to get worse,” he said.
The Associated Press quoted Rakhine state government spokesman Win Myaing as saying no new clashes were reported Saturday.
Human Rights Watch fears the death toll is far higher than that reported by the government, citing “allegations from witnesses fleeing scenes of carnage and the government’s well-documented history of underestimating figures that might lead to criticism of the state.”
In his statement on Saturday, OIC chief Ihsanoglu urged the Burmese authorities “to deploy concrete measures to put an end to the aggressive acts against Muslims in Rakhine state and to ensure the safety and security of the lives and property of the Muslim community” in the country.
He also wanted the authorities to bring the perpetrators of the violence before justice and enact a policy of integration and reconciliation between Muslim and Buddhist communities.
He called for the need to “effectively address the core causes of the violence by eliminating the pervasive discrimination practiced against the Rohingya Muslim community, whose right of citizenship should be recognized.”
Ihsanoglu said the OIC is ready to provide humanitarian assistance and services to the victims of the violence.
The United Nations, which considers the Rohingyas as of the most persecuted groups in the world, has warned that Burma’s fledgling democracy could be “irreparably damaged” by the clashes.
“The fabric of social order could be irreparably damaged and the reform and opening up process being currently pursued by the government is likely to be jeopardized,” a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said in a statement this week that described the violence as “deeply troubling.”
“The widening mistrust between the communities is being exploited by militant and criminal elements to cause large-scale loss of human lives,” the statement said.