Yangon — As delegates from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) arrived in Myanmar Wednesday they were met by protesters at the airport, including some Buddhist monks, with signs saying “Get Out” and “Don’t interfere in Myanmar’s internal affairs”.
The OIC, the world’s largest Islamic political bloc, is on a five-day visit to assess the anti-Muslim violence in the predominantly Buddhist country.
On Tuesday, about 300 protesters marched in Yangon to show their opposition to the OIC’s visit.
Over 240 people have died and some 240,000 have fled their homes in the past year, most of them Rohingya Muslims attacked by Buddhist mobs.
The delegation represents Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Djibouti and Bangladesh, and its leaders will meet with government officials in the capital of Naypyitaw to discuss the sectarian violence, said reports.
The OIC team is expected to see large crowds of demonstrators when they journey to the western state of Rakhine, scene of much of the violence, where they plan to meet with victims in crowded displacement camps.
The government has assured the OIC that security will be tight.
In spite of the backlash, the group decided it was important to offer expressions of concern and condemnation, and to meet directly with those affected.
In the past two weeks tensions have been running high in Rakhine state, with Buddhists saying international humanitarian organizations in Myanmar are biased in favor of Rohingya, something which they deny, resulting in threats to foreigners.
International journalists have been told that travel to the area is barred for the time being.
A Rakhine state spokesman said if the OIC wants to see stability restored to Rakhine state, “it’s better that the delegation not visit at all, but provide humanitarian assistance from outside.”