Some 90,000 Rohingya now find themselves squeezed into camps near the state capital Sittwe, living in cramped barrack-type shelters.

Some 90,000 Rohingya now find themselves squeezed into camps near the capital Sittwe in Arakan state, Bangladesh, living in cramped barrack-type shelters. Photo courtesy Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO via Flickr

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(RNS) At the end of a three-day tour, the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation told Buddhist-majority Myanmar to repeal “laws restricting fundamental freedoms” after more than 240 Muslims were killed by Buddhist mobs during the past year.

Before the OIC delegates left Myanmar on Saturday (Nov. 16), they visited minority ethnic Rohingya Muslims who fled the violence and are now living in squalid camps along the border with Bangladesh in Myanmar’s Arakan state, also known as Rakhine.

Headed by Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the OIC delegation called on the government to continue legal reforms, The New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.

The Myanmar government responded by saying it would help “put an end to all acts of violence, protect the civilian population from violence and ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including in the Rakhine State,” the IOC said.

Myanmar has refused to grant citizenship to 800,000 Rohingya and told them to “return” to Muslim-majority Bangladesh even though many Rohingya have lived on the Myanmar side of the border for generations.

On Friday (Nov. 15), about 3,000 Buddhists led by robed monks marched through Sittwe, capital of Arakan state, to protest against the OIC’s involvement in the Southeast Asian nation’s ethnic problems.

Anti-OIC activists — who include monks and others who express racist views against the darker-skinned Rohingya — suspect the OIC harbors a plot by Saudi Arabia to control their country.

The protesters also converged on Sittwe’s airport to voice their anger when the OIC delegates’ plane arrived, before the officials transferred to helicopters to reach the Rohingyas’ isolated camps.

About 5,000 of the 240,000 Rohingya who fled their homes because of the clashes welcomed the OIC when the delegates visited camps for internally displaced people near Sittwe.

The OIC — accompanied by officials from the Muslim-majority nations of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Egypt, Bangladesh and Malaysia — arrived in Myanmar on Nov. 14, and met government officials in the capital Naypyitaw to discuss the “peace and stability of Rakhine state and rehabilitation,” according to The New Light of Myanmar.

They also spoke with the Interfaith Friendship Group, United Nations officials and others.

The 57 nations that comprise the OIC make it the world’s largest international Islamic organization.

The OIC describes itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world.” It has a permanent delegation at the United Nations.



  1. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black? What goes around comes around.
    The Buddhists just haven’t seemed to had problems before. Most of us consider them tolerant and not warlike, just what could the matter be?

    • “The Buddhists just haven’t seemed to had problems before.”

      Myanmar’s government does not recognize its Islamic countrypeople as citizens. That is a pretty big problem. You are talking some fundamental level disenfranchisement. The sort of thing which gives terrorists a great opportunity to operate.

      Also you have to ignore 5 decades of the Buddhist extremist government in Sri Lanka suppressing the religion, language and culture of their Hindu citizens.

      The original suicide bombers, the kamikazes, were Buddhists (Japanese are Shinto & Buddhist. They are not exclusive religions.)

  2. This is rich: A group of Muslims in Saudi Arabia complaining about religious discrimination! When will they complain to their own king about discrimination against Christians in their country, which is the country that fathered most of those glorious sons of Allah who flew planes into the World Trade Center.

    Buddhists are known for their low-key and calm approach to things. Let them calmly ignore the Muslims coming to p4ead a cause they cannot defend.

    • “Buddhists are known for their low-key and calm approach to things.”

      You don’t know any Buddhists personally. I can tell.

      Myanmar, which is a Buddhist majority country, was one of the most brutal dictatorships in Southeast Asia. Much of the problem there is you have generations of people living in the country who are not being recognized as citizens. In the past, the government used to wage outright war against such groups. Their genocide of the Karen people is not well known to the public but extensive.

      Japan, another Buddhist nation, was known for its low-key and calm approach to dealing with its neighbors from 1869-45. They even found a creative way to hash out their issues with the US in 1941. =)

      • Larry, I suggest that the catalog of evils is written by the politicians, the leaders. Since when are they to be construed as personification of anything but power? Dictators, they’re chosen by the people? Because they claim to be Buddhists, does that make them so? (Do Pelosi and Sebelius [the list can go on] claiming to be Catholic make it so?)

        I may not know any Buddhists personally, but the larger question centers on equating political powerholders with the substance of a religion or religious perspective.

        • Duane, maybe you should not rely on stereotypes when describing religions besides your own. Your remark about Buddhists was rather ignorant in general and just plain lazy.

          Your follow-up about identifying with a specific religion is even more ignorant and ridiculous. Suddenly you consider yourself to be the arbiter as to who is a “real” member of a given faith and who isn’t.

          Sorry Duane, nobody gave you that kind of authority. You can claim someone is not a real [insert religion here] but it doesn’t mean anyone has to take it seriously. It is what people identify themselves as which counts.

          The larger question is how people have used religion and in this case ethnicity as a dividing point in a nation’s political climate. You seem to be of the mind that sectarian violence really only matters if it is against Christians or by Muslims.

  3. Just another example of religious violence that solves nothing but supports much. What would possess a group of people to kill so many other than shear insanity, war, or religion? I have no love for the Muslim faith as it has had devastating effects on America, but I also think the mass murder of 240 humans, Muslim or not, is very wrong.

  4. OIC should seek the right solution regarding the root causes of today illegal Rohingya issues with Bangladesh . It is a foolish decision that OIC picked up Burma and tried to force upon Burma regarding the issues of citizenship for its illegal 800,000 Rohingya .
    In fact It is not Burma problem, it is Bangladesh problem. If Burma accept these illegal Rohingya as Burma citizen, there are millions waiting to flood Burma and boat people from Bangladesh ,south east Asia will not disappear and Australia government is already know that and put in preventive measure in place, yet international community is unfairly pressuring Burma to take in all of the illegal people in Burma to save Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. Here is logic question, why are not these people run to Bangladesh which is much closer and safer than crossing Indian ocean to go to Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia? They have already spoken their native Bangladesh language. At least be honest with the international community, Burma has been unfairly painted as evil society by these people.

  5. When the Islamic countries clean up their act by non-discrimination against other religions by stopping persecution, allowing churches, temples, and allowing Israeli citizens to fly on their airlines, allowing other faiths to show religious insignia, then, and only then, will I have sympathy. They are the biggest violators of human rights in the world.

  6. When I started looking at the “Muslim Problem”, i had no idea what I would find. Here I see a fairly typical example of Islamic rhetoric, the ‘mill-wheel’ of Islamic propaganda at its finest.
    You have to dig deep to see what the real issues are. There are plenty of articles about how persecute, how victimized, how oppressed, the Muslims are. Nothing about the problems they have caused, trying to assert THEIR rules and THEIR law, and obtain a separate state for themselves.
    It seems to be the case, that they simply are incapable of living with anyone, other than their own ( and , as we see in Syria, no even then) on equal, fair and just terms.
    When they are in the ascendance, which is plenty of places, do you hear them helping the persecuted minorities then? No, these minorities are evil, corrupt, and cannot be allowed to exist.
    I have never heard of Buddhist rising to oppose anyone. How bad have the Muslims been, in trying to assert their aggressive, supremacist ideology? They probably thought the Buddhists would be an easy touch, and when they get butt kicked , they start whingeing and whining about how unfair it is.

    The world is learning that, while tolerant, it cannot abide the sort of political shennanigins, and violent riots, that accompany Islam.

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