NEW YORK – The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has unanimously approved a Pakistani proposal to bring into greater focus the plight of Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar.
The approval was given at a meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York. The ambassadorial-level meeting discussed the situation of the beleaguered Rohingya community at the request of Pakistan’s Ambassador to UN Maleeha Lodhi, who opened the discussion by underscoring the urgency of the issue and the need to evolve a collective response to this great tragedy.
Kuwait’s Ambassador Mansour A Al-Otaibi, the current chairman OIC Group at the UN, presided. The OIC delegates welcomed Ambassador Lodhi’s proposal that, as a first step, a delegation of the OIC group at the UN meet Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and apprise him of their serious concern over the oppression of Rohingyas who have been forced into risking their lives by crossing the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to seek refuge in Malaysia and Indonesia.
In her remarks, Ambassador Lodhi said that the root cause of the Rohingya problem lay in the persistent denial of their fundamental human rights and liberties, including the right to citizenship. “Subjected to systematic discrimination, restrictions on freedom of movement and practice of religion, constraints on property rights as well as access to education and health, they are certainly one of the world’s most persecuted minorities,” she added.
“They are forced to escape a life of confinement, waves of deadly violence directed against them, humiliation, persecution and lack of legal status in their own country. These unbearable conditions have compelled them to flee in desperate search for safety and human dignity,” Maleeha said. She expressed appreciation for Malaysia and Indonesia for having agreed to providing temporary asylum to over 7,000 asylum seekers, but said this was not a permanent solution; nor was it appropriate to put the burden on two or three governments alone.
“The international community as a whole and the OIC in particular, has to come together and play its due role for timely, effective and eventually a permanent solution of this problem,” the envoy said. Ambassador Lodhi drew the attention of the delegates to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s announcement about a package of financial assistance through the World Food Programme for distribution in Rohingya camps in Malaysia and Indonesia.
She said that the Pakistani leader followed up by a writing a letter to the UN secretary general, in which he proposed an intensification of diplomatic and moral pressure on the Myanmar government to grant citizenship rights to the community; instructing the UN’s Legal Division to examine if the 1982 legislation and subsequent rules and regulations of the Myanmar government were in line with international legal standards and norms, and, urging the international community to increase all forms of assistance to the persecuted Rohingyas.
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