Malaysia on Thursday urged an organization of Islamic nations to help end the persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority, while Indonesia offered to be a facilitator to find a solution to the crisis.
He warned that the violence must end otherwise militants including the Islamic State group could infiltrate and radicalize the Rohingya.
“OIC member states are well aware that terrorist organizations such as Daesh could seek to take advantage of this situation,” Najib said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
Security forces in Buddhist-majority Myanmar are accused of widespread abuses against the Rohingya, including killings, rape and the burning of thousands of homes that have driven an estimated 65,000 refugees across the border into Bangladesh in the past three months.
Myanmar’s army began the latest crackdown in Rakhine state in October after nine policemen were killed along the border with Bangladesh. The government and the army have rejected accusations of abuse, saying they have been conducting operations to clear the area of armed elements.
Najib urged Myanmar to stop all discrimination and attacks and repeated calls for the free delivery of aid and safe return of refugees, AP reported.
“This must happen now. … The government of Myanmar disputes the terms ‘genocide’ and ‘ethnic cleansing,’ but whatever the terminology, the Rohingyas cannot wait,” he said.
Najib said Malaysia will donate another 10 million ringgit ($2.25 million) for humanitarian aid and social projects in Rakhine, where most of the Rohingya have lived for generations. They are denied Myanmar citizenship.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on the sidelines of the meeting that Jakarta was “more than ready to play a bridging role” to help Myanmar and its Muslim minority.
Marsudi said she will be flying to Yangon on Friday to meet with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and plans to travel to Rakhine on Saturday.
OIC Secretary General Yousef Al Othaimeen said Myanmar must halt “ongoing discrimination and the unwarranted systematic abuse against the Rohingya.”
Rohingya villagers and activists say hundreds of civilians have been killed since October, although figures cannot be verified because authorities have limited access for aid workers and journalists. Recent satellite images showed thousands of houses were burned.
A small group of Rohingya gathered at the building where the OIC ministers were meeting and repeated calls for an independent investigation into their plight.
Prime Minister Najib Razak told the opening of a special meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation that the violence against Rohingya, which has galvanized Muslims in Southeast Asia, was no longer Myanmar’s internal affair as it has fueled an exodus of refugees that could destabilize the region.