Contrary to the stance of most of the western nations, the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is supportive of the government’s plan to relocate the undocumented Myanmar nationals, commonly known as Rohingyas, to Thengar Char, an island in Noakhali district. At the same time, the organisation, comprising 57 Muslim majority countries, called upon the government of Myanmar to take their nationals back and provide them full citizenship with all basic human rights.
“Rohingya people are our brothers and sisters. We should always take care of them. I congratulate the prime minister and the foreign minister for hosting our brothers and sisters, giving them shelters, social services, medical services and education which is very important for us,” OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen told reporters after a meeting with Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali at his office yesterday.
“I am pleased to know that the government of Bangladesh is thinking of developing a small island for them. This is very good,” he said. It will be like living in a small normal city as guests with all necessary services, he added, congratulating the government for this move. “I also call upon all the international organisations to help the government of Bangladesh in this regard, said Dr Al-Othaimeen, a Saudi national.
“Our people in Myanmar need all the support they need. This is not only a problem of Bangladesh. It is also a problem of our Muslim Ummah,” he said.
“We should all help Rohingyas from a humanitarian perspective. This is very important. But, we should also help the political process,” said the secretary general, who is undertaking his maiden visit to Bangladesh since assumption of the office.
Describing the Rohingya issue as a human rights one, he said, “Our Rohingya people are denied their basic rights. They need to be recognised by giving their identities. They must return to their country. This is their country. They must have their full citizenship.”
“I plead with the Myanmar government, please, these are your people. Give them their basic human rights. We are very much willing to come and sit down with you. Give us a roadmap on how to go forward,” said the OIC chief executive.
“All the neighbouring governments including the Bangladesh government, are willing to negotiate to find out how we can move forward on this issue. You cannot deny human rights… Any citizen in the 21st century needs to belong to a country. This is very important for OIC. We will continue pressing on this in a very peaceful manner,” he said.
When asked if the OIC will pursue this matter at the United Nations Security Council, Dr Al-Othaimeen replied, “We always said this.”
About his meeting with the foreign minister, the OIC secretary general said that apart from the Rohingya issue, they discussed the whole range of issues including terrorism, extremism, socioeconomic and cultural matters.
Terming Bangladesh a very important country, he said, “Terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a religion of peace, religion of mercy and religion of tolerance. And, Bangladesh is a shining example of all these values of Islam.”
“We condemn all the terrorist acts not only in Muslim countries but also in non-Muslim countries. Nothing justifies terrorism and violence,” said Dr Al-Othaimeen, adding that if there is a problem it can be solved through peaceful means.
Referring to his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said that he congratulated her for the socioeconomic development and political stability in Bangladesh. The OIC secretary general described Hasina as a ‘shining example’ for all Muslims across the world.
He also met with President Abdul Hamid on the day. Dr Al-Othaimeen is scheduled to travel to Cox’s Bazar today to visit a Rohingya refugee camp and surroundings where a large number of Rohingyas reside.
(c) 2017 The Independent