World Bulletin/News Desk
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.Last Mod: 04 Mayıs 2013, 10:42