Last Updated: Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:56 am (KSA) 08:56 am (GMT)

Saudi Arabia accuses Myanmar of ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Muslims

Violence which erupted in June in the Myanmar state of Rakhine, between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya, has reportedly left about 80 people dead on both sides. (Reuters)
Violence which erupted in June in the Myanmar state of Rakhine, between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya, has reportedly left about 80 people dead on both sides. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia accused authorities in Buddhist-majority Myanmar on Monday of “ethnic cleansing” against the Muslim Rohingya minority in the west of the country, state media reported on Tuesday.

The Saudi cabinet said it “condemns the ethnic cleansing campaign and brutal attacks against Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya citizens, as well as violation of human rights by forcing them to leave their homeland,” in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

The cabinet, chaired by King Abdullah, urged the “international community to take up its responsibilities by providing needed protection and quality of life to Muslims in Myanmar and preventing further loss of life.”

Fighting in western Rakhine state between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya left three killed on Sunday, a government official in Yangon said.

The violence initially broke out following the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman and the subsequent lynching of 10 Muslims by a crowd of angry Buddhists.

The bloodshed has cast a shadow over widely praised reforms by President Thein Sein, that have included the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

The head of the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Sunday proposed sending an OIC mission to probe the “massacres” of Rohingya Muslims.

The OIC will try to persuade the government in Yangon to accept an OIC fact-finding mission, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told an executive committee meeting of the world's largest Muslim grouping which is based in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

He “expressed disappointment over the failure of the international community to take action to stop the massacres, violations, oppression and ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the government of Myanmar against the Rohingya Muslims.”

“The OIC has directed its offices at the United Nations in New York to urge the Council to look into the suffering of the Rohingya minority,” he said, quoted in a statement issued by the 57-member organization.

Violence which erupted in June in Rakhine state between Buddhists and Rohingya left about 80 people dead from both sides, official figures showed.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said that figure appeared “grossly underestimated,” however, and accused security forces of opening fire on Muslims and committing rape.

Hundreds of Rohingya men and boys have been rounded up and remain incommunicado in the western region of the country formerly known as Burma, it said in a report.

Members of both the Muslim and Buddhist communities committed horrific acts of violence with reports of beheadings, stabbings, shootings and widespread arson in Rakhine, also known as Arakan state, the report added

On Sunday, the Speaker of the Arab Parliament, Ali al-Salem al-Dekbasi said the violent incidents taking place in Myanmar against the Muslims were “ethnic cleansing”.

“Thousands of Muslims in Myanmar face massacre, genocide and ethnic cleansing. I call on all Muslim leaders to urgently intervene in the incidents,” al-Dekbasi said.

“I call on the Myanmar authorities to arrest those responsible for the attacks against the Muslims. All those responsible should be tried by the International Criminal Court,” al-Dekbasihe added/.

Myanmar’s government considers the estimated 800,000 Rohingya in the country to be foreigners, while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh and view them with hostility.

Decades of discrimination have left them stateless and they are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.

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