Ensuring Justice for Myanmar Muslims Tops Makkah Summit Agenda
Pressure Tells on Military Junta in Myanmar
By SIRAJ WAHAB
Published in Arab News on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012
The ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is one of the key issues to be discussed at the Islamic solidarity summit convened by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah in Makkah on Aug. 14-15.
With just two days to go for the conclave of the world’s most important Muslim leaders in the most holy city, pressure is mounting on Myanmar’s military junta to allow international and Islamic relief agencies access to the besieged Muslim population of the Arakan province.
Two important delegations to Myanmar — one led by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the other by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — this week have revealed signs of panic and desperation among the junta’s top leadership.
“They have been caught out and have now realized that what they have done to Rohingya Muslims constitutes a war crime,” one of the diplomats at the Jeddah-based OIC told Arab News.
“There is no doubt that the state was and possibly still is involved in the planned pogrom of Arakan Muslims, and they are now trying to reach out to the Muslim world to lessen the impact of the expected robust and unified Muslim response at the Makkah summit,” he said.
Besides Davutoglu, the Turkish delegation included Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s wife Emine and daughter Sumeyye. The delegation called on Myanmar President U Thein Sein and Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and visited the Banduba refugee camp where more than 8,500 Rohingya Muslims have taken shelter.
The delegates received a first-hand account of what exactly happened to the Rohingya Muslims in the last few weeks. They talked to a number of victims and, at one point, according to reports in the Turkish media, the prime minister’s wife was reduced to tears while listening to a harrowing account of a Rohingya Muslim woman.
Davutoglu later told journalists that he would present his findings to the Muslim leaders at the Makkah summit. His findings will hold the key to the future course of action from the Muslim world at the summit.
According to a top Jeddah-based diplomat, there are a number of measures that the Muslim world can think of against Myanmar.
“We can haul the country’s top military leadership, including President Thein Sein and the Arakan provincial head, to the International Court of Justice in The Hague and try them like Slobodan Milosevic and other Serbian leadership,” he said. “Among the other viable options are that of approaching the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council.”
The diplomat also hinted at pressurizing and persuading the world’s leading powers to constitute an international peace-keeping force to save the Rohingya Muslims from being obliterated and uprooted from their historic homeland.
The OIC delegation to Myanmar was headed by former Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla. Among others, it included OIC Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Atta Manan Bakhiet and presidents of the Qatari Red Crescent and Kuwaiti International Humanitarian Commission.
The OIC delegates apprised President Thein Sein of the outrage in the Muslim world at the deplorable humanitarian conditions in the Arakan province of Myanmar.
The delegation asked for access to Muslim humanitarian organizations to provide emergency aid to inhabitants of the worst-hit Arakan province “without any religious discrimination.”
According to a press-note issued by the OIC yesterday, Myanmar president welcomed the OIC delegation and stated that that what had happened was not a direct result of religious differences. Instead, he blamed the massacre on what he called as “social problems between various ethnicities in the province.”
Thein Sein pointed out to the OIC delegates that the international media distorted the events and presented wrong information and exaggerated the killings.
“President Thein Sein stressed his eagerness for the Muslim world in particular to know the truth about what occurred in Arakan, and he mentioned that he had sent an invitation to OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu recently to visit Myanmar to observe the real situation in the affected province,” said the OIC press note.
The president welcomed the OIC humanitarian delegation to Arakan and agreed to allow the OIC and its partner organizations to provide humanitarian aid to the province in an urgent manner and to open an office in the region in coordination with the central government in Yangon and the local authorities in the province. He instructed the relevant ministries to sign an agreement with the OIC to complete the arrangements.