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Saudi Arabia gives $50 million aid to Myanmar Muslims

Kingdom is sending financial aid to Rohingya community in an apparent bid to show itself a guardian of global Muslim interests

Reuters, Monday 13 Aug 2012
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Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has ordered $50 million in aid be sent to the Rohingya community in Myanmar which a human rights group said has been targeted by the authorities since sectarian riots in June.

A report on the Saudi state news agency said the Muslim community had been “exposed to many violations of human rights including ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and forced displacement”.

“King Abdullah has ordered that assistance of the amount of $50 million be provided to the Rohingya Muslim citizens in Myanmar,” said the report which was carried by Saudi media on Sunday. It did not say who was to blame for the abuses.

However, Human Rights Watch said on August 1 that the Rohingyas had suffered mass arrests, killings and rapes at the hands of the Myanmar security forces.

The minority had borne the brunt of a crackdown after days of arson and machete attacks in June by both Buddhists and Rohingyas in Rakhine state, the monitoring group said.

Myanmar, where at least 800,000 Rohingyas are not recognised as one of the country’s many ethnic and religious groups, has said it exercised “maximum restraint” in quelling the riots.

Saudi Arabia sees itself as a guardian of global Muslim interests thanks to being the birthplace of Islam and home to some of the religion’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina. However, Riyadh also regularly draws criticism from campaigners for its lack of democracy.

Last week the Saudi cabinet condemned the violence against Muslims in northwest Myanmar and at a meeting on July 31, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the kingdom’s second city of Jeddah urged members to send Rohingya Muslims aid. 

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