News ID: 176080
Published: 0543 GMT January 20, 2017

Zarif raps global indifference toward Myanmar Muslims

Zarif raps global indifference toward Myanmar Muslims

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the international community for turning a blind eye to the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, urging the Muslim world to unite in support of the persecuted minority.

Zarif made the comments at a special meeting of foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Thursday.

Zarif further condemned the global media blackout on the sufferings of Rohingya Muslims, saying “Unfortunately, horrific images of drowned Muslim children on seashores have made no headlines in world media.”

The top diplomat also censured the international community’s indifference to the plight of the Rohingya and called on the United Nations to focus on the crisis gripping the Muslim community.

Rohingya Muslims have been deprived of their inalienable right to citizenship while facing systematic discrimination, violence and hatred, Zarif added.

He further urged the OIC member states to pressure Myanmar’s government to respect the Rohingya rights, calling for the urgent dispatch of humanitarian aid to the Muslims inside Myanmar and those forced to take refuge in neighboring states.


‘Appalling deaths’

Speaking at the opening of the event, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak urged Myanmar to end its crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.

“Many have suffered appalling deaths, and those that have lived through the atrocities have witnessed or endured unspeakable cruelty,” he said.

Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya was a “stain” on the 10-member Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), he added.

He further said, “OIC member states are well aware that terrorist organizations such as Daesh could seek to take advantage of this situation.”


Possible OIC visit

Ministers attending the OIC meeting agreed to send a high-level delegation to Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state to assess the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

After the meeting, a resolution was issued, urging Myanmar to accept the OIC's visit. It asked Myanmar to implement the rule of law, work toward a sustainable solution, and allow the safe return of refugees and "unimpeded and unconditional access" for humanitarian aid to the affected area.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said an independent assessment of the situation would help Myanmar's government since it has rejected accusations of widespread abuses against the Rohingya.

"In order to ascertain the reality of it, why not receive an independent team to assess whether what has been said really happened or it is just mere propaganda. In actual fact, it is good for them," Anifah told reporters at the end of Thursday's meeting.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on the sidelines of the meeting that Jakarta was "more than ready to play a bridging role" to help Myanmar and its Muslim minority.

OIC Secretary General Yousef Al Othaimeen said Myanmar must halt "ongoing discrimination and the unwarranted systematic abuse against the Rohingya."

The Rohingya community in Myanmar is one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Tens of thousands of its members have languished in displacement camps since the outbreak of communal violence fueled by Buddhist extremists in 2012.

Myanmar’s government denies full citizenship to the community and imposes severe restrictions on their movement, branding them illegal immigrants.

Since last October, Myanmar’s army has carried out operations in the country’s western Rakhine state, home to about 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, following an attack by unidentified gunmen that allegedly left nine police officers dead.

In recent months, there have been numerous reports of arbitrary killings, rape and other atrocities against Muslims at the hands of troops. At least 66,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh in the face of the crackdown.


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