(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/13/12) â€“ America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization today called on President Obama to use his upcoming visit to Myanmar (formerly Burma) to address the systematic persecution of that nation's Rohingya Muslim minority.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says the Rohingya people are denied citizenship and land rights, despite having lived in Myanmar for centuries. Hundreds of Rohingya have been killed and thousands displaced by what appears to be systematic ethnic-cleansing backed by elements of the Myanmar government.
According to a Reuters news agency investigation: “The wave of attacks was organized, central-government military sources told Reuters. They were led by Rakhine nationalists tied to a powerful political party in the state, incited by Buddhist monks, and, some witnesses said, abetted at times by local security forces.”
In a letter to President Obama, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote:
“I congratulate you on your recent re-election and look forward to the strengthening of our nation's economy and security. A significant part of America's strength is derived from our defense of human rights worldwide.
“I therefore respectfully request that you speak out clearly and forcefully in defense of the human rights and physical security of Rohingya Muslims during your upcoming visit to Myanmar.
“While we all welcome Myanmar's recent move to democracy, our nation must not turn a blind eye to what is one of the worst examples of human rights violations in recent history.
“I urge you to make any upgrade in the status of Myanmar as a trading or political partner contingent on its government's willingness to recognize the rights of Rohingya Muslims and to protect them and their property from harm.”
In August, CAIR sent letters to the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh seeking protection for Rohingya Muslims who faced a renewed wave of ethnic and religious persecution.
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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