OIC Slams 'New Attacks'

Satellite imagery shows 'widespread destruction" of Rohingya homes, property in western Burma.
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Muslim Rohingya at a refugee camp in Burma's Rakhine state capital Sittwe, Oct. 27, 2012.
Muslim Rohingya at a refugee camp in Burma's Rakhine state capital Sittwe, Oct. 27, 2012.

The 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Saturday "strongly condemned" what it called a new wave of attacks on Muslim Rohingyas in Burma amid a report that an entire section of a town occupied by the stateless group has been burned to the ground by mobs.

OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said in a statement that the violence, taking place at a time when the Muslim world was celebrating the Eid al Adha marking the end of the annual haj pilgrimage to Mecca, "is deplorable and a blatant violation of human rights."

Violence between Rohingyas and Buddhist Rakhines erupted anew in the western Burmese state of Rakhine last Sunday, leaving 67 people dead, 95 injured and 2,818 houses burned down in seven townships, according to state television.

The OIC chief's statement came as U.S.-based Human Rights Watch claimed new satellite imagery showed "extensive destruction of homes and other property in a predominantly Rohingya Muslim area of the coastal town of Kyauk Phyu"—one of several areas gripped by the new violence.

Human Rights Watch identified 811 destroyed structures on the eastern coastal edge of Kyauk Phyu following arson attacks reportedly conducted on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the satellite images were captured.

"The area of destruction measures 35 acres (14 hectares) and includes 633 buildings and 178 houseboats and floating barges adjacent on the water, all of which were razed," the rights group said in a statement.

"There are no indications of fire damage to the immediate west and east of this zone of destruction."

Media accounts and local officials said that many Rohingyas in the town fled by sea toward Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, 124 miles (200 kilometers) to the north, according to Human Rights Watch.

'Root causes'

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the Burmese government "urgently needs to provide security for the Rohingya in Rakhine state who are under vicious attack.”

“Unless the authorities also start addressing the root causes of the violence, it is only likely to get worse,” he said.

A Burmese government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Agence France-Presse that the death toll in the worst violence between the two groups since June had climbed to 82 people with 129 people injured.

The Associated Press quoted Rakhine state government spokesman Win Myaing as saying no new clashes were reported Saturday.

Human Rights Watch fears the death toll is far higher than that reported by the government, citing "allegations from witnesses fleeing scenes of carnage and the government’s well-documented history of underestimating figures that might lead to criticism of the state."

Some 800,000 Rohingyas live in Rakhine state, where ethnic Rakhines form a majority. Rohingya residents are regarded as outsiders and immigrants from Bangladesh even though many have lived in Burma for generations.

The latest clashes in Rakhine followed demonstrations in cities across the country against plans by the OIC to set up an office in Rangoon to channel aid to Rohingyas reeling from the June violence in which more than 80 people were killed and 75,000 mostly Rohingya residents displaced.

Several thousands more Rohingya have been displaced by the new fighting, putting added pressure on the humanitarian needs in the state, Human Rights Watch said.

'Concrete measures'

In his statement Saturday, OIC chief Ihsanoglu urged the Burmese authorities "to deploy concrete measures to put an end to the aggressive acts against Muslims in Rakhine state and to ensure the safety and security of the lives and property of the Muslim community" in the country.

He also wanted the authorities to bring the perpetrators of the violence before justice and enact a policy of integration and reconciliation between Muslim and Buddhist communities.

He called for the need to "effectively address the core causes of the violence by eliminating the pervasive discrimination practiced against the Rohingya Muslim community, whose right of citizenship should be recognized."  

Ihsanoglu reiterated the OIC’s readiness to provide humanitarian assistance and services to the victims of the violence.

UN warning

The United Nations, which considers the Rohingyas as of the most persecuted groups in the world, has warned that Burma's fledgling democracy could be "irreparably damaged" by the clashes.

"The fabric of social order could be irreparably damaged and the reform and opening up process being currently pursued by the government is likely to be jeopardized," a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said in a statement this week that described the violence as "deeply troubling."

"The widening mistrust between the communities is being exploited by militant and criminal elements to cause large-scale loss of human lives," the statement said.

Reported by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

Comments (5)


from Aye Kyi Ywar

Let us not give up.Little challenges here and there in life,like a house sometimes the bulb went out,the roof leaks.This is like a toilet back up.

Nov 02, 2012 01:25 AM

Ne Myo Thura Yegaung

from US

OIC sent in these people and agitate them to take over the entire country.It is true,we have our problem.It was corruption.I was concerned way back in 1970,80,90 the entire Arakan State became blacker and blacker.To be truthful,there are so many of them,the whole state looks like theirs';and they have backers,and many cells throughout he country.Myanmar may become Myalasia at this rate.Poor or rich,progress or regression,Myanmar will remain Myanmar.There is no way,the UN can understand the situation.The plain truth and our real concern is that we will not allow our children to get raped,sodomised,converted or murdered.

Nov 02, 2012 01:18 AM

Anonymous Reader

Anonimous reader
You need to know the fact of Illegal Bangalis problem is great National Problem, please put aside your hateness to Junta. Every knows Aung Thaung met former generals from Rakhine state and General Aung Gyi took alot of bribe from IB. That is unhonest .Why did he take bribe , clear. Bangalis gave bribe and get blind of their entry and living.Bangalis committed first. Today problem is BY OIC to uprising of IB because their big aim had been lost to open a command HQ in Burma Land. Don't be confuse National problem to Politic. They have already made surrendered to Philippine government. Careful

Oct 29, 2012 10:52 PM

Anonymous Reader

Burmese authorities are the root cause of the problem. Remember president Thein Sein publicly announce his desire to remove Rohingya from Rakhine state and UN denied it. Now he is cleansing them in the same way Burmese juntas using it for many years called 'ethnic cleansing'.

Oct 29, 2012 02:59 PM

Delsuz Uwasy

from Yangoon

Myanmar government is wanted a tremendous war against buddhist terrorists term to make them human.

Oct 27, 2012 07:56 PM

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