Rakhine Women, Monks Protest OIC

Rakhine women protest in the street in Sittwe on Wednesday afternoon. (PHOTO: Rakhine Straight Views)

More than 500 Arakanese Buddhist women took to the streets of Sittwe on Wednesday to protest the government decision to allow the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to open an aid office in Arakan State.

A spokesperson for the OIC, however, told The Irrawaddy that the office was not intended as a flagship for the Rohingya cause, and that it would provide humanitarian aid to both Buddhist and Muslim communities in the form of food and shelter.

Dr. Aye Maung, the chairman of Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), said that his party would accept all the help and humanitarian aid that was provided to those affected by the sectarian violence in the region. He stressed, however, that the RNDP objected to an OIC office in Arakan State capital Sittwe, and suggested that the group base its operations out of either Rangoon or Naypyidaw.

The 57-member OIC is a mostly Muslim bloc of nations which includes all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia. It encompasses some 1.6 billion people worldwide.

The OIC signed an MoU with the Burmese government on Aug. 11 to permit the group to open an office for humanitarian purposes in Rangoon and Sittwe. A delegation from the OIC then traveled to Arakan State in September to inspect the aftermath of communal clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in the strife-torn region.

Approximately 200 women began demonstrating on Wednesday afternoon in central Sittwe wearing t-shirts with slogans reading “No OIC.” As the protest gained momentum, an estimated 300 more women joined in.

“We are protesting because we heard that the OIC is coming to our country. We do not want them based here,” said protester Nyo Aye.

She told The Irrawaddy that the Buddhist women demonstrators supported the 1982 Citizenship Law, which fails to recognize the Rohingya as an indigenous ethnic group of Burma.

“The Bengali Muslims [Rohingyas] are illegal immigrants,” she said. “They should be sent to other countries.”

The demonstration took place just a day after some 500 Buddhist monks held a similar protest in Sittwe in front of the Bangladeshi consulate. A spokesman for the monks said they were demanding that the Burmese government rescind its offer to the OIC to open an office in Arakan State, because it would be used only to support Muslim people.

The Buddhist monks also delivered a letter to the Bangladeshi consulate calling for Dhaka to investigate and take action against those who destroyed Buddhist temples and pagodas in southern Bangladesh recently.

On Monday, Buddhist monks held a demonstration outside the US embassy in Rangoon where they voiced similar sentiments and offered their condolences to the US for the death of its ambassador in Libya last month.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, prominent Buddhist monk Ashin Ottama, who led the protest in Sittwe, said, “We will not let the OIC open an office in Arakan State even if the government has already agreed it.”

A delegation from the OIC met with representatives of Burma’s Ministry of Border Affairs in Rangoon during the second week of September. According to Dina Madani of the Muslim Minorities and Communities Department at the OIC in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Burmese ministry agreed to cooperate with the OIC in its humanitarian role and in establishing offices in the country.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday from OIC headquarters in Jeddah, Ms. Madani said, “We are laying the groundwork to open our offices in Burma by cooperating with non-government organizations that deal with humanitarian affairs. We will hopefully open our offices soon.”

In response to a question about the protests by Rakhine women and Buddhist monks, Ms. Madani said, “That’s unfortunate. But it’s certain people’s opinion, not the Burmese government’s.

“The OIC is only coming [to Burma] for humanitarian affairs,” she said. “We will help both sides—Buddhist and Muslim. There should be no discrimination when it comes to humanitarian affairs.

“I wanted to tell them [the protesters] that we are reaching out to both societies. We want to be partners in peace-building and trust-building. We are not there to discriminate on whether they [partners] are Buddhist or Muslim.

“Without dialogue, there will be more conflict. I do not think the people want this,” she said.

In the meantime, RNDP Chairman Aye Maung said that his party would raise an objection in Parliament to the OIC offices.

He said that the Arakanese people would accept help and humanitarian aid “from any organization and from any country,” but that it was unnecessary for the OIC to open an office in the region.

“We are afraid that the OIC will influence religion and politics in Arakan State,” he said. “It could even threaten the rule of law in our country.”

He reiterated that his party and the majority of Rakhine Buddhists at large would not object if the OIC opened offices in Rangoon or Naypyidaw in coordination with other members of the international community.

10 Responses to Rakhine Women, Monks Protest OIC

  1. One can find Christian Chin in both sides of the border between India and Myanmar. Shan live in China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and even in India (Assam). So do many tribes. There are 1.5 millions Rakhine Buddhists in Bangladesh. Take any border area and one will find tribes living in both sides of the border. But behold, there cannot be a single Muslim or so called Bengali Muslims [Rohingya] in Rakhine. Bangladesh can have 1.5 million Rakine Buddhists. However, for Burmese it is out of logic and against the nature to have a single Bengali Muslim in Rakhine.
    I am really sick and sad of this prejudice.

    • In fact that is the argument of all these do-gooders in UN, NGO, universities,various associations and journalists. Stupid, hypocrite,  racist Buddhists! In unison. 

      This is a rare situation where the do-gooders or wannabe do-gooders Human Rights Watch etc, and kill-any-one-and-every-one-you-can jihadists/terrorists are in total agreement. Against Burmese.And none of the loud champions of the cause, Chris Lewa, Ben Rogers, Hanna Hindstrom,, etc. do not ever acknowledge the two most important things for the local Arakanese population. In stead they keep harping on citizenship, rights, etc. One is the constant threat, physical and mental, by the Rohingya towards the Arakanese population. and second is the fear that this group of people are simple bridge head for the other Islamists to follow them. And no one come out to admit that Wahhabism  is not something even the other Islamic countries are so glad to open their arms for as is simply seen in the boats being towed away in every single instances, by very loud Muslim countries.Unless these two fundamental issues are not addressed, simply blaming only one group is never going to solve the problem.  Just like Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s refusal to even acknowledge, let alone denounce as she should and can, or denial of Kachin and Rohingya sufferings is tantamount to silent support or collusion of with the aggressors ( read Thein Sein/ Min Aung Hlaing/ Than Shwe- her new heroes), Chris Lewa’s, Ben Rogers’ and others’ failure to note the atrocities done by the Rohingya towards the local population is tantamount to saying  “Oh. yes. these people should be killed”. Or put under constant fear. For fear is real.The worry about IOC office is that of the following waves of Islamists landing up more. By not trying to address fundamental issues, but inflating the HURTs, the do-gooders are fanning the flame just as much as xenophobic sabre rattling by the Burmese and Arakanese condoned/ facilitated/encouraged  by Nobel aspirant Thein Sein. 

  2.  I presume these protesting Rakhine Women and Monks have the “official permission” to protest,
    unless the “authorities” turned a blind eye.

  3. The lack of self determination on the land of the ethnic peoples will always cause this kind of protest and civil disobedience in Burma. The Federal Government is supposed to tackle the border security but inside the Rakhine Affairs must be decided by the Rakhines alone, not by Thein Sein nor Nay Pi Taw. 

  4. Muslims must stop insulting Buddhism and peoples of Rakhine
    and its descendents in CHT.

    Now OIC wants to open its office in Sittwe, Arakan state.

    Burmese Government must not allow OIC opening office in
    Arakan state.

    Rakhine land is belonging to Rakhine peoples. To protect Amyo,
    Bartha and Sasana is duty for all Burmese peoples.

    The opening OIC office in anywhere within Arakan state will
    risk of communal riot again. Burma
    is not Muslim country and OIC has no business in Arakan state or anywhere in Burma.

    Please, pay attention and listen to what Rakhine peoples are


  5. You are not a democrat than. If you are a democrat, you may never ever raise this question. The Rohingyas do not belong to Rakhine State nor any land in Burma. Period. Illegal immigrants need to go to Nay Pi Taw where your stepfathers are living.

  6. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

    This is what democracy will
    look like. The streets of Burma belong to the people of Burma; nation-wide
    protests have to be organized all over Burma to make current government listen
    to the voices of the people it represents.  Action talks louder than
    words. Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been everywhere to slander
    against the reputation of Burma across America, at the united nation and the
    rest of its Muslim brotherhood countries, promoting all these slanderous
    accusation of mass murder, genocide, and ethnic cleaning at the cause of
    Rakhine ethnic people in Burma. 


    Condescending behavior of
    Muslim brotherhood countries towards Burma in human right is completely
    non-sense and it has got to stop to pay the way for tolerance of Burmese to
    grow in this hostile situation in Rakhine State of Burma. OIC and the rest of
    their Muslim brotherhood countries never listened to the concern of native
    Rakhine and throw all the blames at them. They would never be a part of
    solution through pragmatic approach by abstaining from their religious bias
    against citizens of Burma. 


    After all, Burma has been
    doing its best in finding a reasonable solution to the plight of stateless
    people, far far away better than all the combination of Muslim countries. Nation – wide protests is the only way to let these religion freak
    organization OIC knows that Burma has sense of confidence and self-worth that
    will protects Burma from being vulnerable to an arrogant person or countries’
    total inability to relate to stateless crisis of Bengali in western


    Opening offices of OIC in
    Burma is addition of their repeated insults to their directly relating noxious
    or cruel things that come out of their mouths. The voices of Burmese people
    have got to be heard really loud and clear until the rest of the world know
    that what happening in the Rakhine state is immigration issues rather than
    religious discrimination.


    All Burmese has already make
    it so clear that these Bengali are not the ethnic of Burma, but illegal
    immigrants that Burma should treat them according to its responsibility as a
    part of international community. There is no room for religion freak
    organization as it would contribute the problem rather than solution.  

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter

  7. We  strongly object to have the OIC office in Sittwe. As  Sittwe is neither a capital  nor a trade  city of  Myanmar, the office should not be in Sittwe at all.  Otherwise , ther must be a reason behind it.  We feel the consequences.   U Thein Sein govgerment must be responsible for the consequences. 

  8. “If you are a democrat you may never raise this question.” The voice of a disciplined democrat!

  9.  I am not being stereo-type or discriminate and  I don’t want to say it but this is what I see in the real world today, most of Muslim brotherhood doesn’t know how to live with other communities or communities that are not Muslim.
    Wherever Muslim are , they want the place to be their territory which create problem.

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