World Bulletin / News Desk
The head of a global union representing the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to hold an emergency meeting on the escalating acts of violence targeting his community.
"We want the Turkish media, the Turkish government and the international community to ask OIC to hold an emergency meeting on this crisis. The issue is hot right now and we need to mobilize our Muslim community," said Dr. Wakar Uddin, Director General of Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU), the largest organization representing the Rohingya Muslims, in an interview with the Anadolu Agency.
Uddin said the Buddhist Rakhine community in Myanmar's Arakan state continued to wage attacks against Muslims and security forces did not prevent the attacks as they came from the same Buddhist ethnicity.
"The state of emergency in Arakan state has been only taking toll on Muslims, but Buddhist Rakhines are not obeying it," he said.
Noting that the biggest crisis in the region was starvation, Uddin said, the region was nearly 500 km away from the capital city and supplies coming from the government did not reach the state.
Limited supplies arriving at the state were distributed to Buddhist Rakhines, not to Muslims, and people were starving to death, he said.
"Tens of thousands homeless, a thousand missing"
Commenting on the number of casualties and displacements in the region, Uddin said tens of thousands of Muslims were homeless and nearly a thousand were currently missing.
"According to the first-hand and confirmed information I got from the region, the number of homeless and people at refugee camps have exceeded 90,000. I cannot give an exact figure for the number of the dead, because everytime a Muslim is killed the body is taken away. Nearly 1,000 are missing, but there are a significant number of dead bodies in this figure," he said.
Uddin also claimed that Burmese security forces took male adults from Muslim families, arrested them and took them to unknown destinations. He said the women left behind were faced with the threat of rape.
"No food for Ramadan"
ARU head also said the holly month of Ramadan was getting closer, but there was no food for the Muslim community.
"Ramadan is coming and there is no food. They are not letting Muslims get out of their homes to go to stores. What will they do in Ramadan-," he said.
Uddin said his community expected international food agencies and aid groups to supply food across the Bangladeshi border.
International community on Arakan dispute
Commenting on the international community's response to the incidents in Arakan, Uddin criticized several western states' decision to lift or ease sanctions on Myanmar due to the country's progress in democratization.
"The international community must be aware that the Burmese government has cleverly shown the international community the progress of reforms. But reforms did not significantly include human rights for minorities," he said.
Describing the acts of violence as an "ethnic cleansing based on race and religion", Uddin said, "The conflict between the two communities in Arakan state is that one community is supported by the Burmese government. There is no justice for Muslims."
Uddin also said there would be a greater chance of reconciliation and peace, if the Burmese government equally treated both communities.
"We need the international community as an honest broker in the middle," he said.
The government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingya Muslims. The government says the Rohingyas are not native and classify them as illegal migrants, although they have lived in Myanmar for generations.
Recently, Myanmar's President Thein Sein said Rohingya Muslims must be expelled from the country and sent to refugee camps run by the United Nations.
Around 800,000 Rohingyas live in Myanmar.
Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education and public services.