Muslim and Global Leaders Call for Protection of Rohingya

Muslim Leader

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) expressed, in an official statement, its dismay and shock over the recent and ongoing wave of indiscriminate violence by state authorities against the Rohingya Muslim community in Rakhine state of Myanmar. A report of the Advisory Commission of Kofi Annan, which was appointed by the Myanmar government itself, has repeatedly highlighted and stressed that “if the human rights concerns are not properly addressed, and if people remain politically and economically marginalised, it will provide fertile ground for radicalization, with people becoming increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by the extremists.”

The Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, has called on the Nobel Prize Committee to immediately withdraw its peace prize from Myanmar’s State Counsellor and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He said “the State Counsellor of Myanmar had lost the eligibility for the award because of the acts of her country against the Rohingya under her leadership and support, noting that such atrocities are contrary to the objectives of the Nobel Award as well as international laws and human rights. Dr Abdulaziz also called on the international community to urgently intervene and put a stop to these grave human rights violations in Myanmar.

The Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak had strong words for Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and her government. “We want to tell Aung San Suu Kyi enough is enough!” he said. The Prime Minister also rejected the statement by Myanmar’s government that Malaysia should not interfere in the country’s internal affairs. His words were: “Do they want me to close my eyes? Want me to be mute?” he asked. “There is an article in the ASEAN charter that says ASEAN must uphold human rights. Are they blind? Don’t just interpret things as you choose.” The Malaysian government and people have been supportive to Rohingya.

The Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that the violence in Myanmar should be immediately halted, urging all parties to take concrete action to deal with the conflict. “It needs a real action, not just a statement of criticism,” he said in a press conference at the State Palace in Jakarta on 3 September. The President also assigned Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to communicate with various parties including US Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Special Advisory Commission for Rakhine State Kofi Annan. Since the beginning of the crisis, the Indonesian government has committed to provide humanitarian assistance to the persecuted ethnic communities. A school for Rohingya children was built and a school will be opened in October.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Myanmar of “genocide” against the Rohingya Muslim minority, who have fled in the tens of thousands across the border into Bangladesh to escape ethnic violence. He described those who close their eyes to this genocide perpetuated under the cover of democracy as its collaborators. Reports said that Erdoğan phone-called Myanmar’s State Chancellor Aung San Suu Kyi and nearly 20 of the world leaders to work urgently towards ending the suffering of almost 1.1 million Rohingya people. The president also said he would bring up the issue at the next UN general assembly in New York later in September.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai says the global community needs to intervene to protect Myanmar’s Muslim minority. “We can’t be silent right now. The number of people who have been displaced is hundreds of thousands,” she told the BBC. Malala urged her fellow Nobel laureate, Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to speak up for the Rohingya. “Children are being deprived of education, they cannot receive basic rights - and living in a terrorism situation, when there’s so much violence around you, is extremely difficult. We need to wake up and respond to it, and I hope that Aung Sang Suu Chi would respond to it as well,” she said.

The criticism of Myanmar’s government reaction to the ongoing crisis spread worldwide including non-Muslim leaders who showed solidarity with the Rohingya. Among these leaders is the Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu who has called on Aung San Suu Kyi to end the violence against her country’s Rohingya Muslim minority in a heartfelt letter dated 7 September 2017 to the Myanmar leader. He mentioned that the unfolding horror and ethnic cleansing in the country’s Rahkine region had forced him to speak out against the woman he admired and considered a dearly beloved sister. The 85-year old archbishop wrote “I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness.”

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a statement on 5 September saying he is “deeply concerned about the security, humanitarian and human rights situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.” Guterres said “the authorities in Myanmar must take determined action to put an end to this vicious cycle of violence and to provide security and assistance to all those in need.” The teams of the UN in Southeast Asia, especially in Myanmar and Bangladesh are working tirelessly to help the Rohingya who fled the massacre. UNICEF also released a statement saying that, of the Rohingya who have crossed into Bangladesh, nearly 80 per cent are women and children.