ISLAMABAD - Muslim countries in Asia including Pakistan led a growing chorus of criticism on Monday aimed at Myanmar and its civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi over the plight of its Rohingya Muslim minority.
Pakistan expressed deep concern over reports of growing number of deaths and forced displacement as nearly 90,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh in the past 10 days following an uptick in fighting between militants and Myanmar's military in strife-torn western Rakhine state.
Foreign Office spokesperson said such reports, if confirmed, are a source of serious concern and anguish on the eve of Eidul Azha.
He said in a statement that Pakistan urges authorities in Myanmar to investigate reports of massacre, hold those involved accountable and take necessary measures to protect the rights of Rohingya Muslims.
In line with its consistent position on protecting the rights of Muslim minorities worldwide, Pakistan will work with the international community in particular the OIC to express solidarity with the Rohingya Muslims and to work towards safeguarding their rights, the statement added.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif also expressed "deep anguish at the ongoing violence against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar", in a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.
"The plight of the Rohingya Muslims is a challenge to the conscience of the international community," said Asif, expressing concern "over the spread of hate speech and incitement to violence, discrimination and prejudice against Muslims and members of national ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities."
Asif expressed support for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) position "condemning the renewed violence" against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority.
He also said that he supports the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission's call "for immediate and effective action to bring an end to all human-rights violations against innocent and unarmed Rohingya Muslim population" and recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission.
The Rohingya are a mainly Muslim stateless ethnic minority who according to rights groups have faced decades of persecution in mainly Buddhist Myanmar. The impoverished Rohingya have been forced to live under apartheid-like restrictions on movement and citizenship.
The recent violence, which kicked off last October when a small Rohingya militant group ambushed border posts, is the worst Rakhine has witnessed in years with the UN saying Myanmar's army may have committed ethnic cleansing in its response.
De facto leader Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner of Myanmar's junta, has come under increasing fire over her perceived unwillingness to speak out against the treatment of the Rohingya or chastise the military.
She has made no public comment since the latest fighting broke out.
Muslim neighbours riled
The growing crisis threatens Myanmar's diplomatic relations, particularly with Muslim-majority countries in Southeast Asia where there is profound public anger over the treatment of the Rohingya.
The Maldives announced on Monday that it was severing all trade ties with the country "until the government of Myanmar takes measures to prevent the atrocities being committed against Rohingya Muslims", the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It did not say how much trade took place between the two countries but it could prompt other Muslim nations to follow suit.
Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi met Suu Kyi as well as Myanmar's army chief General Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyidaw on Monday in a bid to pressure the government to do more to alleviate the crisis.
"Once again, violence, this humanitarian crisis has to stop immediately," Indonesian president Joko Widodo told reporters on Sunday as he announced Retno's mission.
Hours before Widodo spoke, a petrol bomb was thrown at Myanmar's embassy in Jakarta while police there have previously dismantled two attempts by Islamist militants to bomb the compound.
Dozens demonstrated in front of the embassy on Monday, where armed police were deployed and the mission cordoned off behind barbed wire.
Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif added in a recent tweet: "Global silence on continuing violence against #Rohingya Muslims. Int'l action crucial to prevent further ethnic cleansing - UN must rally."
Muslim-majority Malaysia has also seen public protests since the latest round of violence began.
"We urge for calm and restraint," Prime Minister Najib Razak tweeted. "The dire situation facing our Rohingya brothers and sisters must be alleviated for good of Myanmar and region."
"Every time I see the news, my heart breaks at the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar," Pakistani activist Yousafzai, who famously survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, said in a statement on Twitter.
"Over the last several years I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same," she added.
PTI moves NA
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday moved an adjournment motion in the National Assembly Secretariat to hold a discussion in the house over Rohingya crisis.
Five PTI lawmakers including Dr Arif Alvi and Shah Mehmood Qureshi submitted the adjournment motion, which demanded suspending routine business of the House to discuss the alarming situation.
“The genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Burma that has resulted in thousands being beaten [up], shot and hacked to death. Their homes have been burnt and hundreds of thousands are homeless and have taken refuge in Bnagladesh,” read the motion.
Afghan Taliban’s call
Afghan Taliban on Monday urged Muslims worldwide to not forget the oppressed Rohingya Muslims in their hour of need.
“Gird your loins for the defence, rescue, sanctuary and every type of aid to them and perform your obligation of Islamic sympathy towards them to your utmost extent,” the Taliban told the Islamic countries in a statement.
“The international media have not properly broadcasted the genocide of Muslims of Burma and neither has the Human Right Watch given it any serious attention. In our view this is not only unfair and deplorable but is in conflict with the call of humanity and humanitarian sympathy,” the statement said.
Warning about militancy threat
Analysts have long warned that Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya would lead to homegrown militancy as well as support from international jihadists.
Since the latest fighting broke out, al-Qaeda's offshoot in Yemen has called for retaliatory attacks against Myanmar while the Afghan Taliban called on Muslims to "use their abilities to help Myanmar's oppressed Muslims".
Bangladesh forces 2,000 Rohingya off remote island
Bangladesh authorities have forced more than 2,000 Rohingya to leave a remote island where they were hiding out after fleeing violence in Myanmar, officials said Monday.
The UN says 87,000 mostly Rohingya refugees have poured over the border into Bangladesh since the latest round of fighting broke out 10 days ago in Rakhine state.
The vast majority have entered overland or by crossing the Naf border river. But as desperation grows, some are braving the open seas to reach the small island of St Martin's nine kilometres (around six miles) off Bangladesh's coast.
Officials said the island's 9,000 residents, who share close cultural ties with the Rohingya and speak a similar language, had been hiding around 2,000 recent arrivals but were ordered to give them up.
The head of the local council Noor Ahmad said mosque loudspeakers were used to ask residents to hand Rohingya arrivals over to the coast guard.
"They told us to help find the Rohingya by any means and bring them to the coast guard camp," said Ahmad.
Another elected official, Farid Ahmed, said 2,011 Rohingya including children were rounded up at the coast guard headquarters on Sunday evening and taken away.
"Rohingya children were crying. But it is the government order. What can we do?" Ahmed said.
"They (Rohingya) said, where should we go? They (Myanmar forces) were killing us there. Our houses were burnt. They were firing at us."
Both men said the Rohingya had been taken back to Myanmar on boats.
Rohingya genocide pains Muslims