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OIC-IPHRC asks Myanmar to end violence against Rohingyas

DHAKA, Jan 5, 2017 (BSS) - The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) today urged the Myanmar government to take firm steps to immediately end the violence against its Rohingya population and bring the perpetrators of violence to justice.

The rights body came up with the call at the end of a three-day fact- finding visit to Cox Bazar, by the OIC-IPHRC, which was undertaken in compliance with the mandate given to it by the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) to regularly monitor and report on the human rights situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.

"Persecuted based on their race, religion and origin, the Rohingya minority of Myanmar represents one of the worst examples of victims of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity," said an OIC press release received here today.

Expressing its dismay at the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, who continue to suffer severe and institutionalised human rights violations at a mass scale, the OIC-IPHRC stressed the need for revising and replacing all discriminatory policies and practices against Rohingyas, and ensuring a sustainable and voluntary return of the displaced people in safety, security, dignity and with ensured livelihood to their homeland in Rakhine State.

In the absence of any positive response from the Myanmar authorities on repeated IPHRC requests to undertake a fact-finding visit to Rakhine State to freely and objectively ascertain the human rights situation on the ground, the IPHRC undertook a visit to Cox Bazar to meet with the Rohingyas and other stakeholders to get first-hand information on the human rights situation faced by the Rohingya in Myanmar.

IPHRC delegation included Dr Rashid Al Balushi (Chairperson) and members Med Kaggwa, Dr Raihanah Abdullah, Amb. Abdul Wahab, Mahmoud Afifi and Adama Nana.

During the visit, IPHRC delegation had the opportunity to meet and discuss in detail with the Rohingya people the sorry state of human rights situation faced by them in Myanmar. The horrifying tales of human rights violations narrated by the Rohingya refugees, included systematic and systemic discrimination in denying all sorts of their civil, political, economic and social rights in addition to widespread and indiscriminate violence resulting in torture, rape and extrajudicial killings that did not even spare women, children and elderly.

Eye witnesses also counted details of dreadful events, which started in August last year, when in the garb of pursuing the attackers of two security posts, hundreds of Rohingya villages were torched and thousands of innocent civilians were tortured and brutalised by military gunfire, using helicopters and rocket propelled grenades, including those who were fleeing, that resulted in hundreds of extrajudicial killings and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homeland to save their lives.

Officials from relevant UN human rights and humanitarian agencies, representatives of international human rights organisations and local government and civil society actors met by the IPHRC delegation also confirmed receiving similar accounts from a wide range of victims who had fled their homes in Myanmar to save their lives.

IPHRC delegation squarely condemned the egregious human rights violations committed against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and declared it a deplorable racist behavior, where a minority is abjectly discriminated on the basis of its race, religion and origin in all spheres of life, including their socioeconomic and political rights.

Based on the testimonies received from a wide range of Rohingya victims, the Commission affirmed that the situation carries the hallmark of an organised campaign of ethnic cleansing, which is a crime against humanity under international law and must be stopped by all means, the release said.

The Commission also called upon the international community in general and OIC Member States in particular to do all they can to urge Myanmar to fulfill its international human rights obligations towards its Rohingya minority in a concrete and time bound manner.

It also urged them to extend all out humanitarian assistance to the Rohingyas both internally displaced in Myanmar and those living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

On its part, the Commission vowed to continue to closely follow the human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims and would do all it can to mitigate their sufferings in cooperation with the regional and international stakeholders.

IPHRC delegation extended its sincere appreciation to the government of Bangladesh for the unfettered access and full logistical support provided to undertake its mandated task with objectivity and neutrality.