Tuesday, January 24, 2017


 Jakarta, Jan 24, 2017 (Antara) - Indonesia together with other members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been working on measures to help improve the situation in Rakhine State in Myanmar where Rohingya Muslim minority having been oppressed and discriminated for years.
          During an Extraordinary Session on the Situation of the Rohingya Muslim Minority in Myanmar, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on January 19, 2017,  OIC member countries' Ministers of Foreign Affairs expressed grave concern at the recent eruption of violence in northern Rakhine that resulted in the loss of innocent lives and displaced tens of thousands of Rohingya people, and called upon the Government of Myanmar to take decisive steps to restore calm to the affected areas.
            The Government of Myanmar should ensure that the security forces act in accordance with the rule of law and that all perpetrators of acts of violence be held accountable, the ministers said in a final communique issued at the conclusion of the meeting.
           The Meeting called on the Government of Myanmar to ensure an inclusive and transparent policy towards ethnic and religious communities, by including the Rohingya Muslim Minority as an integral part of this process and considering them as an ethnic minority, as called for by relevant UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions
       The OIC Foreign Ministers' Extraordinary Meeting agreed on two outcome documents.

            The first is a resolution on the situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar which, among others, calls on the OIC members to provide humanitarian aid and to request the Myanmar government to open up access for humanitarian aid.

            The second document is a Final Communiqué which, among others, urges the OIC representatives in New York, Geneva, and Brussels to periodically review developments in Myanmar.
            Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP Marsudi, who attended the OIC emergency ministerial meeting, said Indonesia is ready to play a bridging role with the OIC for taking constructive and inclusive steps to improve the situation in Rakhine.
             "Only by taking constructive and inclusive steps can the OIC contribute to improving the situation in Rakhine State," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stated.  
     During the meeting, the foreign minister again voiced Indonesia's concern over the worsening security and humanitarian situation in Rakhine  since the conflict broke out in October 2016.

         The minister also emphasized that the Myanmar government should continue to respect and uphold the human rights of all communities in Rakhine State.
          Furthermore, Marsudi proposed four steps to the OIC to contribute to improving the situation in Rakhine State.
            In addition to expressing concern over the situation in Rakhine State, the OIC can hopefully offer aid to prevent the situation from worsening, she affirmed.
            The OIC is expected to engage Myanmar in a constructive manner and be able to cooperate with regional organizations, such as the ASEAN, to handle various aspects related to the Rakhine State issue.
           She also suggested that the OIC can be Myanmar's economic development partner and hinted at the possibility of a partnership with the Islamic Development Bank.
            The minister reiterated Indonesia's readiness to play "a bridging role" in the efforts to find sustainable solutions, including by ending the suffering of the Muslim community in Rakhine State. 
       She also revealed various steps that Indonesia has taken to help Myanmar over the last several years.

            The minister has held separate meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, and the foreign minister of Bangladesh, as well as visited the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh.
            Indonesia had also succeeded in convincing Myanmar to hold an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Minister's retreat in December 2016.
            During the meeting, an agreement was reached that Myanmar will open up access to ASEAN humanitarian aid for all the communities in Rakhine State, gradually allowing access to the media, and will periodically provide information on the situation in Rakhine State to the ASEAN ministers.
           Following the OIC meeting, Minister Retno Marsudi flew to Sittwe, Rakhine State, to deliver some 10 containers of humanitarian aid from Indonesia at the order of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi).
          Besides, she also officially inaugurated two new schools funded by the Indonesian people for the communities of Rakhine State.
          Indonesia had earlier built a hospital and organized capacity building activities to improve the welfare of Rakhine inhabitants.
          She ensured that Indonesia would continue to provide medium- and long-term assistance, including through capacity-building programs, to ensure democracy and good governance as well as to offer training for the Myanmar police, among others.
            Indonesia will also dispatch an interfaith dialogue team to help build confidence at the grassroots level between the Buddhist majority and Muslim communities in Rakhine State.
            "Indonesia has opted to take constructive and inclusive steps to help the Myanmar government to improve the situation in Rakhine State, including for the Muslim minority," she remarked.
            During a two-day working visit to Myanmar, Minister Marsudi also held a series of meetings on Friday afternoon (Jan 20) with the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, chief representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and members of the Advisory Committee of Rakhine State.
            Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs U. Kyaw Zeya said that the Myanmar government welcomed the visit of Minister Marsudi and praised Indonesia's efforts to support development in Myanmar. ***2***

(T.F001/A/BESSR/A. Abdussalam) 25-01-2017

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