Muslims Petition UN on Burma Persecution

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CAIRO – Muslim states have petitioned UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take an action against Burma over ongoing attacks against Muslims in the Buddhist-majority country.

"Myanmar (Burma) is having a honeymoon with the world,” Saudi Arabia's UN ambassador Abdullah al-Mouallemi was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Thursday, July 11.

“The only problem is that that honeymoon is being built on the bodies of the Muslim victims in that country.”

The Saudi ambassador and other delegates of members of the umbrella Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met Ban on Wednesday to demand more action by the United Nations over attacks against Muslims in Burma.

Burmese Muslims have been facing repeated attacks by the Buddhist majority in recent months.

Scores of Muslims have been killed and thousands displaced in bouts of religious violence in western Burma last year.

Anti-Muslim violence also killed more than 43 people last April in central April after an argument between a Buddhist couple and gold shop owners.

Scores of Muslim students were also burnt to death in a fire that gutted an Islamic school in central Burma.

A court has sentenced seven Buddhists to between three and 15 years in jail for their role in the school massacre.

Monks were blamed for inciting hatred against Muslims by preaching a so-called “969 movement” which represents a radical form of anti-Islamic nationalism that urges Buddhists to boycott Muslim-run shops and services.

Rights groups have accused the Burmese police of turning a blind eye to attacks against Muslims.

The violence has raised doubts on the success of Burma’s transition from 49 years of oppressive military rule that ended in March 2011.

Ethnic Cleansing

Muslim delegates have called for a UN action to stop the “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims in Burma.

"The Myanmar authorities are failing in taking the necessary measures to stem the violence," Roble Olhaye, Djibouti’s UN ambassador and head of the OIC group at UN, told a press conference.

"What we need from the UN is to have its voice heard loud and clear, being the conscience of the world.”

The OIC delegates said that the UN chief had promised to be more vocal about defending Muslims in Burma.

"We called on the secretary general to interfere to make his voice heard more loudly," al-Mouallemi said.

"The most basic human rights and human values are being stepped upon by the current government and by the radical elements within Myanmar."

The Saudi delegate also appealed to major powers to speak out against the persecution of Muslims in Burma.

"I think there is a lot more that the UN can and should do," he said, adding that Muslim nations would also be speaking with UN Security Council members about Burma.

"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.

Described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, Rohingya Muslims are facing a catalogue of discrimination in their homeland.

Rohingyas say they are deprived of free movement, education and employment in Burma.

They are not recognized as an ethnic minority by the Burmese authorities and say they suffer human rights abuses at the hands of government officials.
"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.”
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