x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Saudi accuses Myanmar of 'ethnic cleansing' of Rohingya Muslims

Saudi Arabia has accused authorities in Myanmar of "ethnic cleansing" against the Muslim Rohingya minority in the west of the country, state media reported today.

Indonesian Muslims rally outside the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta yesterday.
Indonesian Muslims rally outside the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta yesterday.

RIYADH // Saudi Arabia has accused authorities in Myanmar of "ethnic cleansing" against the Muslim Rohingya minority in the west of the country, state media reported today.

The Saudi cabinet said it "condemns the ethnic cleansing campaign and brutal attacks against Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya citizens, as well as violation of human rights by forcing them to leave their homeland," in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

The cabinet, chaired by King Abdullah, urged the "international community to take up its responsibilities by providing needed protection and quality of life to Muslims in Myanmar and preventing further loss of life."

Fighting in western Rakhine state between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya has killed 80 people since June, with three killed on Sunday, a government official in Yangon said.

The violence initially broke out following the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman and the subsequent lynching of 10 Muslims by a crowd of angry Buddhists.

The bloodshed has cast a shadow over widely praised reforms by President Thein Sein, that have included the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar forces of opening fire on Rohingya, as well as committing rape and standing by as rival mobs attacked each other.

The Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Sunday proposed sending an OIC mission to probe the "massacres" of Rohingya Muslims.

There has also been peaceful protests outside Myanmar embassies in Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt over the past few days.

Myanmar's government considers the estimated 800,000 Rohingya in the country to be foreigners, while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh and view them with hostility.

Decades of discrimination have left them stateless and they are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.