Myanmar nationals protest against visit by Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

YANGON – Over 1,000 people, including Buddhist monks, on November 15, took to the streets of Yangon for the second time this week to protest against a visit by delegations from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The protestors marched from the bronze-cast Buddha image in Bahan Township at 2pm that afternoon. They treaded along U Htaung Bo Road, Shwedagon Pagoda Road, U Wisara Road and Kannar Road to the front of City Hall, holding placards and voicing disapproval on the OIC’s activities in Myanmar.

“We stage the protest only after taking permission from the authorities of four respective townships. The OIC has nothing to do with our country, Myanmar. The people do not like their visit and go on the demonstration,” said a Buddhist monk U Parmaukkha. “We want to give a clear message that we do not like the visit of the OIC. So, we demonstrate here,” said Kyaw Kyaw, who took part in the march.

The protestors pronounced five statements of the public opinion, including one that says Myanmar will not accept the OIC’s attempt to introduce the Islamic Sharia law into Myanmar, and another that welcomes the President’s decision not to allow the OIC to open office in Myanmar.

Another protest also occurred at Yangon International Airport yesterday. About 30 people waited for more than 10 hours at the airport to protest against the OIC’s delegations that took flight to Yangon from Nay Pyi Taw.

The protestors gathered in front of the airport since 7am Saturday morning. They stood up on the pavements of the airport street until 5pm to demonstrate against the OIC on their arrival in Yangon.

The protestors took the permission of the authorities in advance, so it is legal, said Police Colonel Aung Thein Win from Mingalardon Township Police Force.

“The OIC is a group comprised of 57 Islamic countries. We are the Buddhist nation. They want to open an office here to support the Bengalis. We don’t accept it. We protest to demonstrate our disapproval. As a Buddhist nation, we want to live peacefully. Now, we have staged protests for four times totally,” said a protestor Ko Latt.

A large public protest consisting of hundreds of marchers occurred in Yangon on November 12, a day before the OIC delegation arrived in Myanmar.

Such large-scale protests recently spread to many other cities across the country as the OIC representatives renewed their bid to open a branch office in Myanmar, during the meeting with deputy parliament speaker Nanda Kyaw Swar and legislators from Rakhine State on November 15.

Myanmar saw nationwide public protests when the OIC first attempted to open an office in the country in October 2012.