Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, who tried to cross the Naf river into Bangladesh to escape violence, cry as they receive news that they cannot find refuge in the country. (File photo)
A senior Iranian lawmaker has called on Tehran to enter negotiations with Myanmar’s government in an attempt to pursue the issue of the religious cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in the country.
“We should enter talks with Myanmar’s government and follow up the issues closely,” Ahmad Bakhshayeshi, a member of Iran's Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said on Saturday.
He noted that the role of Naypyidaw and its silence over the massacre of Rohingyas should be clarified, adding that Myanmar’s government should explain why it declares the Muslim minority as illegal immigrants.
The talks should also touch upon the reasons behind the tensions between the Myanmarese Buddhists and Muslims, the Iranian legislator pointed out.
Bakhshayeshi went on to say that Myanmar incidents are reminiscent of the massacre of Muslims at the hands of Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992 war in Bosnia.
Reports say 650 Rohingya Muslims were killed as of June 28 alone during clashes in the western region of Rakhine in Myanmar. This is while 1,200 others are missing and 80,000 more have been displaced.
The Iranian lawmaker criticized the Islamic countries for not condemning the atrocities unanimously and argued that the lack of unity in the Muslim world led to such a reaction.
Last Friday, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein said Rohingya Muslims must be expelled from the country and sent to refugee camps run by the United Nations.
The government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas, who it claims are not natives, and classifies them as illegal migrants, although the Rohingya are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Burma as early as the 8th century.
Even Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has kept quiet on the atrocities committed against the Rohingya Muslims.
Ironically, just days after she received a peace prize, Suu Kyi told reporters she did not know if Rohingyas were Burmese.
The UN says decades of discrimination have left the Rohingyas stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education and public services.