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OIC office in Burma fuels monk demonstrations

The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will not be allowed to establish a permanent office in the country following protests across the country by Buddhists demanding details of the agreement, said Burmese government officials.

Buddhist monks protest the opening of an Organization of Islamic Conference office in Burma. Photo: Bo Bo / Mizzima
Buddhist monks protest the opening of an Organization of Islamic Conference office in Burma. Photo: Bo Bo / Mizzima
Reacting to the move, the Jeddah, Saudi Arabia-based OIC threatened to take “appropriate” action, said Radio Free Asia in a story on Monday on its website.

The OIC on Monday first said it “has not received official statement from Myanmar (Burma) that it will not allow OIC to open a humanitarian office in Rakhine” state, the location of widespread communal violence starting in June.

Then, the OIC said it “will take appropriate measures if Myanmar backs off from the agreement it signed to allow OIC to open humanitarian office.”

“We cannot accept any OIC office here,” Oattamathara, a monk leading the Mandalay protests, told Agency France Presse news agency.

A statement posted on the presidential website said: “The government will not allow the opening of an OIC office as it is not in accordance with the desire of people.”

The move illustrated the ongoing tensions in the country between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhist. Rohingyas are routinely denied citizenship in Burma.

Last month, Burma and the OIC agreed to open an office to provide aid for Muslims and others displaced by the fighting, but Aung Min, a minister in President Thein Sein’s office, on Monday sought to assure thousands of protesting monks and Buddhist laypeople that the office would only be temporary.

“Our government will not do anything against the will of the people. So there is no need to worry,” Aung Min told RFA’s Burmese service in an interview on Monday.

“We are proud of what the monks are doing for the nation and the region,” he said of the thousands of protesters.

Maj. Zaw Htay, director of Thein Sein’s office, told RFA on Sunday that the OIC office would only be open for a “limited period of time” to help distribute assistance to people displaced by the June violence.

“We have not given permission for the OIC to open an office in Burma,” he said. “It will only be a temporary office to manage OIC's humanitarian assistance and delivery—for a limited period of time—but the people have expressed outrage over it.”
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 October 2012 16:29 )  

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