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Spineless Giant-About 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims live in Burma

  0 comments   |     by Mowahid Hussain Shah

Buddhist-led butchery of Burmese Muslims continues despite the presence of the 57-member OIC.  A notable exception has been its stirring on the initiative of Turkey’s President Erdogan, chair of the September 2017 OICSummit in Kazakhstan.  In separate letters, the OIC has urged the EU and UN agencies to take “decisive steps” to end the crisis.  Erdogan also despatched his wife and foreign minister to bring aid to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Historically, the OIC – on which is supposedly the onus – has done, in effect, little to foster Muslim solidarity or to safeguard Muslim well-being. It has remained impervious to fanning of sectarian discord.  Its role is foggy on the new “force” set up to combat, among others, the poorest Arab country in the world, Yemen, which is now rife with cholera. Then, too, it has been inconsequential on Palestine and Kashmir – the two biggest volcanic flashpoints roiling militancy. Its passivity during the butchery of Bosnia presented a humiliating spectre, leaving a radicalizing residue.  

More damagingly, the OIC has lent itself to the culture of defeatism and the mindset of helpless victimhood.  Muslim inaction has weakened Muslim self-esteem. About 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims live in Burma, mostly in the state of Rakhine. One-third have already fled, according to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, characterizing it as ethnic cleansing and calling the humanitarian situation “catastrophic.”  Amnesty International has pointed to new evidence of “an orchestrated campaign of systematic burnings” of Rohingya villages by Burmese security forces.  There is ample documentation of unspeakable horrors.  A reputable legal analysis prepared by Yale Law School in 2015 found “strong evidence” of “genocide.”  

Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s de facto leader, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, alludes to Muslim victims as “terrorists.”  The OIC Charter explicitly states that one of the OIC’s objectives is “to safeguard the rights … of Muslim communities and minorities in non-Member States.” Spineless and toothless after the assassination of King Faisal, the OIC has been seen sitting on the sidelines during some of the gravest international crises to face the Muslim world.  

The OIC can convene an extraordinary session of its foreign ministers to call for an internationally sanctioned humanitarian intervention to save the Rohingyas in Burma. The worst sometimes brings out the best – but only if sparked by inspiring leadership. It shall be consistent with the founding vision of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia who had convened and subsidized the most consequential Islamic summit nearly 44 years ago at Lahore.  Arguably, then, with Nixon on the wane because of Watergate, Faisal was the most influential presence on the global stage and got the accolade of Time Magazine’s 1974 “Man of the Year.” To cite the New York Times of December 30, 1974, “Throughout 1974, Faisal’s actions … touched the lives and pocketbooks of virtually every human being on earth.” 

Prayers, pleadings, and petitions can be carried up to a point.  Then the necessity for action becomes unavoidable and inevitable. Left unattended, one thing is certain about the plight of the Rohingya: what happens in Burma will not stay in Burma.  Remember the Palestinians.

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