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On March 20, provoked by an argument at a shop, a Buddhist mob rampaged through the central Burmese town of Meiktila killing over 30 Rohingyas and injuring another 70. The Buddhists burned mosques and Muslim homes before many of the terrified Rohingya survivors marching out of town. This communal violence is not supposed to be part of Myanmar’s new direction. The organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has called a foreign minister-level meeting to discuss the issue of violence against Muslims in Myanmar. The OIC has called for convening of the Contact Group at Jeddah due to renewed acts of violence against Muslims in Myanmar by Buddhist extremists. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh is likely to fly to Jeddah on Thursday (11th April) to attend the meeting.
Bangladesh has recently underlined the need for regionally harmonizing the response to the root cause of the Rohingya problem and the increase of transnational crimes, including trafficking of people, drugs and arms across the Bangladesh-Myanmar border that has been contributed by regional trafficking syndicates. The security of Bangladesh and of the region faces threats amid rising extremism and terrorism. In his speech at the Contac Group meeting on the Rohingya problems held at the OIC headquarters at Jeddha recently, the Secretary General announced two messages, the first directed to the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar stressing that OIC will support their cause, and that the OIC and member states are following up on the issues and are ready to take all necessary measures and actions to deal with the problems. The government of Myanmar should put an end to the Buddhist extremists hate campaigns as well as the ethnic cleansing that they had launched against Muslims in the country.
The OIC should take up the issue to international forums including the United Nations. The animosity towards Muslims goes back a long way,and now that central political control is loosening in Mynmar, old scores are being settled. A government commission into last year’s brutalities in Rakhine state is due to be published soon. If, as is expected, it recommends legal security for the Rohingyas, that could spark off another round of anti-Muslim rioting in Myanmar. The OIC meeting should seek to gain the confidence of the Rohingyas and the international community has to fulfill its promises about the Rohingya issue.