Foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will meet to discuss the Rohingya Muslim crisis next week in Kuala Lumpur, a Malaysian official told AFP Wednesday, as thousands continue to flee Myanmar. Fifty-six OIC representatives are expected to attend the January 19 meeting which will be led by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who recently called on Myanmar to stop the "genocide" of Rohingya Muslims. Buddhist-majority Myanmar refuses to recognize the Rohingya as one of the country's ethnic minorities, instead describing them as Bengalis--or illegal immigrants--even though many have lived in Myanmar for generations.
There has been a large exodus of Rohingya from northern Myanmar's Rakhine state after the army launched clearance operations while searching for insurgents behind deadly raids on police border posts three months ago. Escapees from the persecuted Muslim minority in Bangladesh have given harrowing accounts of security forces committing mass rape, murder and arson. The stories have cast a pall over the young government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, with Muslim-majority Malaysia being especially critical.
Myanmar's government has said the claims of abuse are fabricated and launched a special commission to investigate the allegations. In November, Kuala Lumpur summoned the Myanmar ambassador while around 500 Malaysians and Rohingya protested outside the embassy. A senior Malaysian minister has also called on ASEAN, the ten-country Southeast Asia bloc, to review Myanmar's membership, while the foreign ministry has accused Myanmar of engaging in "ethnic cleansing." - AFP, Kuala Lumpur