Muslim nations press U.N. over Myanmar Rohingyas

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Islamic nations on Wednesday called on U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon to do more to halt the “tyranny” they say Muslims are enduring in Myanmar.

Religious riots in Buddhist-majority Myanmar have cast a shadow over heralded political reforms since military rule ended two years ago. Envoys to the U.N. from Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries say the global body should pressure the Myanmar government over the troubles.

“Myanmar is having a honeymoon with the world. The only problem is that that honeymoon is being built on the bodies of the Muslim victims in that country,” said Saudi Arabia’s UN ambassador Abdullah al-Mouallemi.

Mouallemi and other ambassadors from OIC members met Ban on Wednesday to demand more action by the United Nations, particularly over Rohingya Muslims.

In March at least 44 people, mainly Muslims, were killed in sectarian strife in central Myanmar.

Communal unrest last year in the western state of Rakhine left about 200 people dead and up to 140,000 displaced, mainly Rohingyas, minority Muslims who are rejected by many in Myanmar.

Roble Olhaye, Djibouti’s U.N. ambassador and head of the OIC group at U.N., called the action against Rohingyas “ethnic cleansing”. “The Myanmar authorities are failing in taking the necessary measures to stem the violence,” he added at a press conference with Mouallemi.

“What we need from the U.N. is to have its voice heard loud and clear, being the conscience of the world,” Olhaye said.

Olhaye and Mouallemi said the U.N. leader had promised to be more vocal about defending Muslims in Myanmar.

“We called on the secretary general to interfere to make his voice heard more loudly,” said the Saudi envoy. “The most basic human rights and human values are being stepped upon by the current government and by the radical elements within Myanmar.”

Mouallemi said Islamic nations wanted the United Nations and the major powers -- particularly the United States, Russia, China, European Union and Myanmar’s neighbors -- to speak out against what he called the “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingyas.

“I think there is a lot more that the U.N. can and should do,” he said, adding that Muslim nations would also be speaking with U.N. Security Council members about Myanmar.

“Myanmar is trying to open itself to the world, trying to attract attention, investment, engagement by the entire world. it is not enough to simply say that you must have elections and feed the basic structures of democracy.

“There has to be an end to the killing, that is much more basic, there has to be an end to the persecution, to the tyranny that this population is facing,” said Mouallemi.

Ban met on Wednesday with members of the Group of Friends on Myanmar, which includes the United States, China, European and Asian nations to discuss changes in Myanmar and recent unrest, said a U.N. spokesman.

The group welcomed peace talks with Kachin rebels, but also “stressed the urgent need for effective action to punish the perpetrators of the violence” in Rakhine and “urgent attention” to issues including Rohingyas' citizenship.

Ban “expressed his confidence that Myanmar would continue to make all round progress in strengthening its democratic institutions,” said the spokesman.

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