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    Suffering of Muslims in Myanmar not alleviated

    Sait Demir stated that the ineffectiveness of the OIC and Turkey to find a solution to the plight of the Muslims in the country was because Myanmar’s authorities have not reciprocated the goodwill. 

    World Bulletin/News Desk
    May 04, 2013

    The Organization of
    Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has failed to prevent increasing acts of violence
    against Muslims in Myanmar committed by extremist Buddhists due to the
    insensitivity of both the Myanmar government and the member states of the
    organization.

    Observers believe
    that the violence against Muslims in Myanmar should alarm the international
    community, particularly OIC, and that more than ever they should increase their
    efforts to prevent the violence against the Arakan Muslims who have been forced
    to flee their homes due to violence and who now face hunger, thirst and disease
    as the bloody ethnic massacre in the country has reached to an unbearable point
    in the recent months.

    Two outbreaks of
    unrest between Buddhists — supported by the state because of ethno-religious
    differences — and Arakan Muslims in June and October left nearly 200 people
    dead and forced tens of thousands of people, mostly Muslims, to flee burning
    homes.

    The violence
    appeared to begin spontaneously, but by October had morphed into anti-Muslim
    pogroms across Arakan province, the location of the recently escalating
    violence that spread last month in the Southeast Asian country.

    Sait Demir, who has
    been serving in Myanmar with Turkey’s Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH) for
    nine years, stated that the ineffectiveness of the OIC and Turkey to find a
    solution to the plight of the Muslims in the country was because Myanmar’s
    authorities have not reciprocated the goodwill of the organization and Turkey.

    Demir told Turkish
    press that the visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Emine
    Erdoğan, the Turkish prime minister’s wife, to Myanmar in mid–August to observe
    the situation of the Arakan Muslims, who are seen as foreigners by nationalist
    Myanmar leaders and extremist Buddhists, in the Banduba refugee camp in Arakan,
    was a milestone.

    “After Davutoğlu’s
    visit, the Myanmar government started to close its eyes to the violence in the
    country. The OIC wanted to open an office in Myanmar but the extremist
    Buddhists protested and therefore, the Myanmar government did not give
    permission for the office to be opened. Turkey wanted to play an active role in
    the country but this was also prevented by the Myanmar authorities,” said
    Demir, adding that currently the IHH is also prevented from being functional in
    the country.

    Turkey was hopeful
    at the time of Davutoğlu’s visit to Myanmar, but all these hopes were dashed by
    the recent violence in the conflict-torn country.

    Davutoğlu had
    discussed possible steps to take to help the Arakan Muslims in Myanmar with
    Secretary-General of the OIC Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu and with Bangladesh, where a
    great number of Arakan Muslims have taken shelter. However, so far, these
    efforts haven’t yielded any results.

    As a step to
    increase Turkey’s role in the issue, the Turkish parliamentary Human Rights
    Commission decided this week to conduct investigations in order to watch for
    any violations of the rights of Arakan Muslims in Myanmar.

    Human Rights
    Commission Chairman Ayhan Sefer Üstün told Turkish press that the commission
    will establish investigatory committees and pay visits to Myanmar so as to
    observe the situation as necessary.

    “There is a
    humanitarian tragedy going on in Myanmar. We cannot be indifferent to this
    tragedy. We are planning to send a letter to the presidents as well as the
    prime ministers of many countries about the situation of the Muslims in
    Myanmar. We will do our utmost to keep this issue at the top of the agenda.
    Buddhists are killing Muslims and the government in Myanmar is only watching it
    happen. This is noteworthy,” said Üstün.

    Muslims in Myanmar
    are the victims of a global power struggle, said Demir, adding that the
    Buddhists were carrying out “genocide” against Muslims. “Turkey, a country
    which is active in the UN, should force that organization to take action on the
    issue. The International community is staying silent on this genocide for its
    own interests. This problem is a world problem!” said Demir.

    OIC’s structure led
    to failure of organization to take action in Myanmar

    Although the OIC
    held several meeting to discuss the issue of violence against Arakan Muslims in
    Myanmar, so far it has not been able to take concrete action on the ground to
    stop the violence which is believed to be due to the ineffective structure of
    the organization and unwillingness of the member states.

    “Our expectation
    from the OIC and the Muslim countries was to play an active role in preventing
    massacres in the country. However, the increasing violence in Myanmar is enough
    proof for us to see the ineffectiveness of the OIC. This organization is unable
    to wield its own power” Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for
    Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER) Secretary-General Üstün Bol told Turkish press.

    İhsanoğlu has
    several times complained that though the OIC has been working to resolve the
    issue through engagement and proactive action, Myanmar’s authorities have not
    responded to the calls of the organization.

    However, Bol
    believes that the OIC should be activated and the Muslim world should use its
    influence over the issue. “The Muslim world has significant potential but its
    fails to benefit from its potential,” said Bol.

    The UN estimates
    the Arakan population in Myanmar at 800,000 individuals, but nationalist
    Myanmar leaders, officials and fanatical Buddhists do not recognize them as one
    of the country’s 135 ethnic groups and most are denied citizenship and are
    exposed to discrimination.

    Keeping mum
    tantamount to being partner in crime

    Touching on the
    reluctance of the international community, Chairman of the Felicity Party (SP)
    Mustafa Kamalak stated that the Buddhists in the country were openly carrying
    out massacres of Muslims and added that those who stay silent in the face of
    these massacres were partners in the crimes.

    “It is most
    regrettable to witness the insensitive attitude of Muslim countries and the OIC
    over the issue. I am speaking openly; this tragedy cannot be kept at bay by
    weak speeches! Remaining silent will encourage the wrongdoers to continue their
    atrocities. Deterrent measures should be taken immediately and international
    organizations should be mobilized. The world should stop this massacre in
    Arakan that will go down in history as the greatest massacre of the 21st
    century. Or else, no one can justify this in history,” Kamalak told Turkish
    press.