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Gambia leads international efforts to protect Rohingya Muslims


In 2015, Gambia has offered to resettle Rohingyas fleeing persecution from Myanmar. The small nation leads the discussion in world’s second biggest global body, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

An inter-ministerial committee of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has met in Banjul on Sunday to discuss ways on how to mobilise international support for the protection of the human rights of the Rohingya Muslims.

Some 700,000 Rohingyas, a minority Muslim community in Myanmar, fled a brutal military crackdown in Rakhine beginning in late August 2018.

They joined some 400,000 other Rohingyas, who fled earlier waves of persecution in Myanmar where they are denied citizenship and other basic rights.

 “The OIC must not leave it to others alone to demand accountability for crimes committed against Rohingya Muslims especially when the affected Muslim community constitute a minority… Rather, the OIC should lead such calls,” said Gambia’s justice minister Abubacarr Tambadou, at the opening of the inaugural meeting.

“The Muslim minorities around the world deserve the collective voice and solidarity of the OIC within the international community… The OIC must therefore speak for them.”

Gambia proposed the formation of the inter-ministerial committee in Bangladesh in May 2018. The task of the ministerial committee is to collaborate with other international actors including the United Nations, International Criminal Court and NGOs to sustain international political pressure for accountability efforts for crimes against Rohingyas.

The Committee is to also act as OIC’s focal point and assist in information gathering and evidence collection for crimes committed against the Rohingyas.

 The outcome of the inaugural ministerial committee meeting, according to Gambia’s justice minister, will be tabled before OIC council of foreign ministers in United Arab Emirates on March 2 and 3 this year.

And if the foreign ministers endorsed their proposed course of actions, then the process starts there.

Gambia’s justice minister Tambadou said they have reached a consensus by exploring various options and strategies available to the OIC in terms of ensuring justice for gross violations of the human rights of the Rohingya Muslims.

Turkey was represented at the meeting by Ismail Sefa Yuceer, country’s ambassador to Gambia, and Salih Sen. Other countries in the committee are Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Djibouti and Sudan.

Gambia’s chief justice, Hassan Jallow, who was chief prosecutor at United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is among those who will give technical advice to the inter-ministerial committee.

Meanwhile, the secretary general of the OIC, Dr Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, in a speech delivered by his adviser Yousef M. Aldobeay, said the OIC member countries must work together in ensuring that people who commit crimes against the Rohingyas are held accountable.

Dr Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen said the stories he has heard from the Rohingyas who fled persecution in camps in Bangladesh are “horrendous”.

Meanwhile, Shahriar Alam, a state minister for foreign affairs of Bangladesh, did a presentation on the current horrendous conditions of the Rohingyas who are fleeing Myanmar to their country. Bangladesh is under pressure economically due to the influx of Rohingyas fleeing persecution, said Alam.

“The root cause of the problem is the denial of the rights of the Royingyas and primarily their citizenship rights… The solution must come sooner than later,” said Alam.

“We must sustain international pressure on Myanmar to ensure the country fulfill its obligations under the international law…”


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