World Bulletin / News Desk
Thousands of Buddhist monks marched in Myanmar's two biggest cities on Monday to protest against efforts by the world's biggest Islamic body to help Rohingya Muslims targeted in deadly communal clashes four months ago.
The monks denounced plans by the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to set up a liaison office in northwest Rakhine state, where violence erupted in June between ethnic Buddhist Rakhines and Rohingyas.
Just hours after the monks dispersed, President Thein Sein's office announced it would not permit an OIC representation in Myanmar. It was not immediately clear if the announcement was linked to the protests or had been planned in advance.
"The government will not allow the opening of an OIC office as it is not in accordance with the desire of people," said a statement posted on its website.
Some carried placards with the words "get out OIC", and "no OIC" and said they would hold demonstrations until the government agreed to their demands.
Despite being one of Asia's most ethnically diverse countries, there is entrenched ill-feeling in Myanmar towards the estimated 800,000 Rohingyas, most of whom live in abject conditions.
Accused of being illegal immigrants and usually referred to as Bengalis because of their South Asian origin, the Rohingyas are not recognised as citizens by Myanmar.
"The OIC is only for Bengalis, not for us," said monk Pyin Nyar Nanda at one of the rallies.
A delegation from the OIC visited Rakhine state last month after several Muslim countries voiced concern about the violence against the Rohingyas, whom the United Nations has described as "virtually friendless".
In a report in August, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had found evidence of "state-sponsored persecution and discrimination" against the Rohingyas in the weeks after the violence, claims that the government denied.
While all sides of the political spectrum have called for calm, the issue has become a hot political issue for Nobel laureate and lawmaker Aung San Suu Kyi. She has faced international criticism for failing to speak out in defence of the Rohingyas, who are denied the same rights as Burmese.
During the trouble, many Rohingyas tried to flee in rickety boats to neighbouring Bangladesh, which also refuses to recognise them. Most were turned back by security forces.
The government had earlier indicated it would consider allowing the OIC to open a temporary office in the Rakhine capital, Sittwe, where aid groups and journalists say the two communities remain deeply divided.
A nationality row has sparked a row after a Kashmiri leader refused to identify himself as Indian. Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani must declare he is Indian to receive passport.
The UN envoy has called for transparent and accountability on draft law which NGOs say might stifle freedom of expression and association.
The Thai junta have arrested opposition activists on the anniversary of the coup last year. For the Thai people, criticizing the regime is out of the question: any political gathering of more than five people could lead to imprisonment.
Unofficial armed groups are being recruited by NATO and the Afghan government in Kunduz.
Jayalalithaa Jayaram is set to return as chief minister to Tamil Nadu after she was acquitted by the Karnatka High Court this month
The western Myanmar state of Rakhine said the boat was from Thailand and the plan was to send the migrants back.
The orphaned girls of Kashmir's Gulshan-e-Banaat receive support and education but are anxious about future.
China has labelled US overflight actions as irresponsible and dangerous, after it was ordered a number of times to "go away".
US President Barack Obama has announced his decision to upgrade Tunisa's NATO status.
The AIIB Bank set up by China is expected to be operational by the end of the year.
The Turkish government has sent Turkish military ships to reach the Rohingya Muslims stranded off Thailand and Malaysia
Afghan president announces defense minister nomination after months of debate and delay
PM presents plan to become developed country with per capita income of $15,000, and middle class population of 45 percent.
The Chinese navy warned a US surveillance plane to leave the disputed south China sea area.
Thousands of Arakan refugees have left lives in Bangladeshi camps in search of opportunities in Malaysia.
The South Korean President has elected justice minister Hwang Kyo-ahn as new prime minister.