The ministers stressed during the meeting, which kicked off in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on Saturday, that there was a need for taking strong action against the government of Myanmar over a crackdown that has displaced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from their homes in the western state of Rakhine.
Around 700,000 refugees have fled Rakhine into Bangladesh since Myanmar launched the crackdown in August last year. The refugees have reported killings, rapes and arson by members of the Myanmar military and Buddhist mobs. Most of the refugees are still unwilling to return to Rakhine, fearing they might come under renewed attacks. The government of Myanmar has refused to offer firm guarantees that a repatriation process agreed with Bangladesh would not unravel.
Opening the OIC meeting, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, said Muslim countries had to show more solidarity with Rohingya refugees by pressuring the government of Myanmar to facilitate their return to Rakhine.
"In the OIC we should take strong action manifesting solidarity with them and strengthen efforts in persuading the government of Myanmar to take urgent measures for the sustainable return of Rohingyas to their homeland in Rakhine state,” said Ali.
The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has designated Myanmar’s crackdown against the Rohingya as a textbook example of "ethnic cleansing" while it suspects that the military and Buddhist mobs may have committed acts of genocide against the Muslims.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who attended the OIC meeting as a guest, said the international community had a duty to hold into account those responsible for the crimes against the Muslims.
“... we must pledge to hold the perpetrators of these crimes to account. We must work to establish a clear pathway towards the accountability for atrocities and human right violations committed in Rakhine state,” said Freeland.
The crackdown in Rakhine started after a group of Rohingya fighters claimed attacks on police and border posts in the region. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said those attacks added a fresh fuel to a campaign to depict Muslims as "terrorists," adding that Muslim nations should try to reverse that course.
“This must not be acceptable because Islam is a religion of peace and we believe in peace. We don't want for some few people to defame this holy religion,” said Hasina during the OIC meeting.
Before the meeting, diplomats visited camps in Cox's Bazaar region that host the Rohingya refugees.