BRUNEI is in a unique position to address the plight of the Muslim Rohingya people in Myanmar who are facing persecution and ethnic cleansing, the chief of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said yesterday.
“Brunei being both a member of OIC and ASEAN is in a unique position to help address the violation of human rights and the plight of the Rohingya people, particularly (since) they are suffering from ethnic cleansing,” said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu at a press conference following a public lecture he gave atUniversiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD).
Ihsanoglu is in the Sultanate on a three-day visit, where he also met with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
The OIC secretary-general said the monarch expressed particular concern for the violence between Muslims and Buddhists in the coastal Rakhine state of Myanmar.
“We had a very fruitful meeting… We have exchanged views on the current issues in the Muslim world and the situation in Syria and different parts of the world, with special reference to Myanmar.”
According to media reports, Myanmar President Thein Sein is set to visit the Sultanate next week and will also make a stop at UBD.
During his lecture on the modern Muslim world at the university, Ihsanoglu said Nobel peace laureate and pro-democracy doyenne Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to speak out against the human rights violations of the Rohingyas, described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
“She’s only interested in the human rights of the Buddhists because they are human beings and the Muslims are not,” said Ihsanoglu in a response to a question from the audience.
After an OIC summit in Kazakhstan, the secretary-general said he wrote to both Suu Kyi and Myanmar President Thein Sein to besiege them to address the human rights violations in Rakhine, but there was no response from the former.
Suu Kyi, one of the world’s most celebrated pro-democracy and human rights campaigners, has remained uncharacteristically silent on one of the most urgent humanitarian issues facing her country.
She told the BBC last month that she did not want to take sides because she wanted to foster reconciliation between the Buddhist and Muslim communities.
The UN estimates that 800,000 Rohingya live in Myanmar, where they face heavy-handed restrictions: they need permission to marry, have more than two children and travel outside of their villages.
The Myanmar government considers the Rohingya illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and has denied them citizenship, even though many of their families have lived in the country for generations.