Muslim bloc demands action for crimes against Rohingya

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation plans to launch a case against Myanmar's military in the International Court of Justice
Muslim bloc demands action for crimes against Rohingya

A Myanmar border guard stand near a group of Rohingya Muslims in front of a small store during a government-organized visit for journalists in Buthidaung township in restive Rakhine State on Jan. 25. (Photo by Richard Sargent/AFP)

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has called on Myanmar to take immediate measures to hold perpetrators accountable for atrocities against the Rohingya.

During the 14th Islamic Summit Conference in Saudi Arabia on May 31, the bloc’s 57 member states insisted on “an international, independent and transparent investigation" into human rights violations in Myanmar including sexual violence and aggression against children.

Muslim leaders urged the OIC’s ministerial committee on human rights violations against the Rohingya to take immediate measures to launch a case at the International Court of Justice on behalf of the OIC.

They also called for free and unrestricted access to humanitarian assistance for affected persons and communities.

Condemning the inhumane situation of the Rohingya, the OIC demanded urgent action to end acts of violence and all brutal practices targeting the minority while ensuring all their rights without any discrimination or racial profiling.

“Myanmar is fully responsible for the protection of its citizens, and the use of military power in Rakhine State must stop immediately,” a statement said.

The conference also urged Myanmar “to take practical, time-bound and concrete steps to restore the citizenship of Rohingya who were deprived of their nationality, with all associated rights, and to allow and facilitate their safe and dignified return [from Bangladesh].”

Matthew Smith, co-founder and chief executive of Fortify Rights, said pressure must be increased on Myanmar authorities to prevent the next round of mass killing.

He said that some diplomats argue that the international community’s efforts so far have been totally ineffective and they are using that argument to shy away from uncomfortable conversations about achieving justice and accountability.

“Now is not the time to back away from pushing for accountability. Backing off would be extremely dangerous for civilians in Myanmar,” Smith told ucanews.com.

Aye Lwin, a former member of the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Advisory Commission, said the OIC’s call for an end to rights abuses is the same as those by the international community.

“Myanmar and Bangladesh need to have political willingness and find the causes of delaying a safe and dignified return for the Rohingya,” Aye Lwin told ucanews.com.

Kyaw Min, chairman of the Yangon-based Human Rights and Democracy Party that fights for Rohingya rights, said the OIC move is another lobby for taking action against Myanmar.

“It raises a question of whether Myanmar will heed the OIC calls as even the U.N. is still struggling to take action against Myanmar over atrocities against the Rohingya,” Kyaw Min told ucanews.com.

More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh from Rakhine State due to a bloody crackdown by Myanmar’s military that started in August 2017 following border post attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

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A U.N. fact-finding mission found that the military committed four of the five acts constituting genocide against the Rohingya. It said military chief Min Aung Hlaing and five other senior generals should be prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity.

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