WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today sent letters to the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh seeking protection for Rohingya Muslims who are facing a renewed wave of ethnic and religious persecution.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also urged the international community to address the suffering of the almost one million Rohingya in Myanmar (formerly Burma), as well as those who have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), which yesterday released a report on the humanitarian crisis:
"Burmese security forces committed killings, rape, and mass arrests against Rohingya Muslims after failing to protect both them and Arakan Buddhists during deadly sectarian violence in western Burma in June 2012. Government restrictions on humanitarian access to the Rohingya community have left many of the over 100,000 people displaced and in dire need of food, shelter, and medical care."
Myanmar President Thein Sein said the "only solution" to the conflict was to expel the Rohingya to other countries.
SEE: Government Forces Targeting Rohingya Muslims
HRW Report: Sectarian Violence and Ensuing Abuses in Burma's Arakan State
Even when Rohingya Muslims are able to flee to the relative safety of Bangladesh, they face hostility and rejection. Today, Bangladeshi authorities ordered three international aid agencies not to help the Rohingyas fleeing to that nation.
SEE: Bangladesh Tells International Charities to Stop Aiding Rohingyas
In its letter to Myanmar President Thein Sein, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part:
"Your government must take urgent steps to end human rights violations by its security forces and to allow unimpeded access for relief organizations and international monitors seeking to enter affected areas. Once calm is restored, Myanmar must revise its 1982 Citizenship Law, which effectively denies citizenship to Rohingya Muslims.
"We urge you to cooperate with the international community to take immediate measures to address the ongoing killings and abuse of Rohingya Muslims."
In a similar letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Awad wrote:
"The government of Bangladesh, with the support of the international community, must offer full humanitarian assistance to those forced to flee Myanmar. Denial of this assistance will inevitably result in even greater suffering, which we should all seek to prevent."
In July, CAIR called on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to take concrete steps to help stop the killing of civilians in Myanmar and Syria.
CAIR's letter to Secretary Clinton stated in part:
"As a world leader, our nation cannot stand on the sidelines while civilians are slaughtered in nations like Syria and Myanmar. More forceful actions must be taken to end the violence."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations