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Pan-Muslim body urges Myanmar to allow OIC delegation

OIC Calls On Int’l Community To Stand Up For Rohingya Muslims (Photo RvisionTV)

AFP
April 14, 2013

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the world’s top pan-Islamic body, pushes for a delegation to investigate violence against Muslims in Myanmar

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Sunday urged authorities in Myanmar to allow a ministerial delegation to visit the country to discuss deadly violence against Muslims.

The world’s top Islamic body, in a statement following a meeting in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah, also urged the UN Human Rights Commission to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Myanmar.

The statement called on “Burmese authorities to strongly respond to the organisation’s appeal and allow a ministerial OIC delegation to visit” Myanmar.

Last year at least 180 people were killed in the western state of Rakhine in clashes between local Buddhists and Rohingya — a Muslim minority treated with hostility by most Burmese who see them as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

In March, at least 43 people died in Buddhist-Muslim clashes which broke in central Myanmar where mosques were burned down and Muslim homes were destroyed.

The unrest has instilled fear in the country’s Muslims, some of whose families had lived peacefully alongside Buddhists for generations.

“Such violence is a clear indication of the government’s negative approach in dealing with ethnic and religious tensions that erupted last summer,” said OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, describing the violence as “unacceptable”.

While the Rohingya — described by the UN as among the most-persecuted minorities on the planet — have long been denied Myanmar citizenship, the Muslims targeted in last month’s unrest are Myanmar nationals.

The apparent trigger for the latest violence was a quarrel between a Muslim gold shop owner and Buddhist customers in the town of Meiktila. Soon afterwards, a monk was killed by Muslims.

The violence escalated into a street riot that unleashed Buddhist-led bloodshed around the region.

Ihsanoglu spoke at an emergency OIC Contact Group foreign ministers meeting in Jeddah on the Rohingya minority.

The Contact Group, formed in September, includes 11 of the OIC’s 57 members — Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Djibouti, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sudan and Turkey.

Last year the OIC condemned the violence against Muslims in Myanmar as “genocide”.