RIYADH: Saudi Ambassador to Turkey Waleed Al-Khereiji said that the Kingdom has been standing by the side of the Rohingya Muslims for 70 years at the international level, and by providing assistance and donations.
The ambassador’s statement, released by the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah, said that King Salman’s government has given a lot of attention to the protection of human rights, at both the international and regional levels. The Saudi leadership has taken the initiative to join various international human rights organizations and conventions that call for ending discrimination and mistreatment since 1997.
Concerning the Rohingya crisis, the ambassador said: “The Kingdom has exerted all possible efforts to help Myanmar’s Muslims in this human tragedy. The Kingdom is all about action, and not words. Nobody can claim that they have exerted more efforts for the Rohingya people than the Kingdom has during the past 70 years, as history stands witness that the Kingdom was one of the first states that supported their case at the international level and in the UN Human Rights Council.”
“The Kingdom has also condemned Myanmar’s government for denying the Rohingya people citizenship since 1982, considering them illegal immigrants. Thus, the Rohingya people have been restricted from freedom of movement and the simplest human rights, including food and health care services. The Kingdom has also made a donation of $50 million for the Muslim minority, through health rehabilitation and educational programs, and started receiving refugees in 1948. Today, there are 300,000 Rohingya people in the Kingdom.”
He added: “The Kingdom has released many statements condemning the violence against the Rohingyas, including rape, murder, forced eviction, persecution and ethnic cleansing campaigns. The Kingdom has also contacted the UN secretary-general and the Rohingya crisis has become an international issue and thus, Myanmar is facing international condemnation over the Rohingya crisis. As the leader of the Islamic world, the Kingdom will continue its efforts and contacts in order to find solutions.”
The history of the Rohingya Muslims living in Riyadh
The tragedy of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State once again highlights the story of Rohingya groups which emigrated to Makkah.
Many years ago, Rohingya Muslims, fleeing the persecution of their own government, emigrated to Makkah from Rakhine State in western Myanmar on a journey which lasted about two years. The UN classified the Rohingya as the most persecuted people in the world.
In this context, the director of the Rohingya Media Center, Saleh Abdul Shakur, stated that the Rohingya Muslims form a minority of about 1 million people who live in the west of Myanmar (formerly Burma). They have been stripped of Burmese nationality by the government and subjected oppression for the past 70 years for one reason only — being Muslim.
Abdul Shakur told Alarabiya.net that continuous persecution pushed some Rohingya Muslims to flee to Saudi Arabia. Upon their arrival, the late King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz offered them special residency status, and since then, “the Burmese community has found in the Kingdom the care and mercy they lacked in their home country.”
Abdul Shakur added that four years ago, a special program was launched to revise the situation of the Burmese community, and they were offered free residency permits for four years which entitled them to free education, health care and employment. The program, which was implemented by the governorate of Makkah and offered settlement for more than 250,000 Burmese, was classified by the UN Commissioner for Refugees as the biggest humanitarian program.
Abdul Shakur maintained that the Kingdom is the biggest supporter of the Rohingya case in the world.