The OIC Contact Group on Myanmar held a meeting on the sidelines of the Annual Coordination Meeting (ACM) of the OIC Foreign Ministers at the UN in New York on Wednesday Sept. 30 in which it welcomed the proposals of the OIC’s Special Envoy to Myanmar and adopted his recommended plan of action.
The meeting was chaired by OIC Secretary General HE Iyad Ameen Madani, in the presence of OIC’s Special Envoy to Myanmar HE Tan Seri Syed Hamid Albar and the Director General of the Arakan Rohingya Union Dr. Wakar Uddin.
The meeting called on Myanmar to abide to international law and human rights covenants, take necessary measures to stop violence against and the discrimination of Rohingya Muslims, restore the citizenship of Rohingya Muslims which was revoked in the Citizenship Act of 1982, implement an inclusive transparent policy towards ethnic and religious communities as an integral part of this process, and consider Rohingya Muslims an ethnic minority in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 238/64.
It also called on Myanmar’s Government to take necessary measures to restore peace and inter-communal harmony through dialogue, and establish a comprehensive reconciliation process for all segments of Myanmar society. It further reiterated its call for Myanmar to revive the agreement to open an OIC office for humanitarian aid in Yangon.
The meeting also called on OIC Member States and the international community to continue efforts in conjunction with those of the UN to ensure the return of all Myanmar refugees displaced from their homes in Rakhine (Arakan) province.
In his opening speech, OIC Secretary General HE Iyad Ameen Madani said that the immediate crisis affecting the Rohingya boat people in the Andaman Sea has subsided since the last meeting of the Contact Group that was held on the sidelines of the 42nd Council of Foreign Ministers held in Kuwait on May 28 2015.
“I would like to commend the decision of Malaysia and Indonesia to accept the boat refugees and acknowledge the support provided by other member countries to the humanitarian effort. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that the suffering of the Rohingya people continues in numerous other ways and the conditions for them in Myanmar remains serious,” he said.
He shed light on the fact that the authorities in Myanmar continue to present obstacles to the full recognition of the Rohingya Muslims and their right to citizenship. “The revocation by the Myanmar government of ‘white’ identify cards in May has left hundreds of thousands of Rohingya in a tenuous situation and vulnerable to expulsion. Alternative identification cards which have been proposed still require the Rohingya to deny their identity and register as ‘Bengali’, which only exacerbates and prolongs the discrimination,” he said.
He, therefore, called for the need for OIC Member States to intensify their efforts, bi-laterally and at the international level, to wield pressure on Myanmar to halt its oppression of Rohingya Muslims and reinstate their citizenship rights unequivocally. “The OIC has actively engaged with the international community on this issue and at the last session of the UN Human Rights Council, a resolution was passed on Myanmar, in close coordination between the OIC and European countries,” he said.