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Rohingya crisis: OIC must move into action

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URGING Myanmar to take back Rohingya populations from Bangladesh, visiting OIC Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen yesterday said Myanmar should resolve the ongoing humanitarian crisis over the persecuted minorities. He met refugees at two camps -- one registered and another unregistered -- and talked to those who escaped Rakhine state following grave human rights violations and widespread persecution by Myanmar security forces.

The OIC chief listened to horrific stories of killings, torture, rape, use of human shields by security forces and deaths in custody. He said the world will be informed of these rights violations. Rohingya refugees have been a big headache for Bangladesh as the country has been hosting 3,00,000 to 5,00,000 of them for over three decades. After the latest crackdown began on October 9, 2016, some 75,000 new members of the Myanmarese Muslims entered Bangladesh.

Expressing OIC's solidarity with the Muslims there, Othaimeen said pressure will be put on Myanmar to give them citizenship and return their assets so that the refugees can go back to their own country. He held a meeting with local government and non-government officials. The OIC Secretary General had a long conversation with a number of women who were brutally tortured by the Myanmar troops. He also had separate conversations with a group of another 30 males and females in an IOM-run school.

While talking to journalists, Othaimeen thanked the government and the people of Bangladesh for hosting the refugees for more than three decades and for providing humanitarian assistances to them. During his conversation with the Myanmarese refugees, he also urged the Rohingya people to abide by Bangladeshi laws.

Talk is nice -- but as the saying goes, it is also cheap. The Myanmar government will not pay any attention to the OIC -- it did not pay any attention to ASEAN, so OIC is out of the question. Reports by Al Jazeera TV point to a disturbing collusion between the Myanmarese military and militant monks who spread racial hatred. Documents in the report seem to point to incitements by the military to foment racial hatred directly or indirectly. The same monks who were arrested for fomenting racial hatred during military rule are now funded by the military to foment violence -- and it seems to be an open secret.

If it is a way to show that democracy will not last or is weak then it seems to be succeeding. There are restrictions on the movement of Rohingyas, on their children going to schools, on their ability to go to hospitals to seek medical care. Even those Rohingyas who can present documents to certify their citizenship are denied the ability to get the right. Ms Suu Kyi will have to do much more than mouth empty promises to the world that she will provide justice for the Rohingya. Meanwhile our government, who has been suffering for the last 38 years due to the Rohingya influx, must do much more to engage world attention and bring about a settlement. It does not look as if the Myanmar government is doing anything anytime soon.

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