Turkish foreign minister decries international community's indifference to plight of Rohingya Muslims
Turkey will continue to support Rohingya and all the oppressed communities across the world, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Highlighting a camp that would be built in Bangladesh for Rohingya Muslims, who are fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, Cavusoglu said Turkey would help the Muslim community even if nobody shows up for their support."Even if nobody shows up for [support of] the Rohingya, we would help them, we have to..," the foreign minister said in an interview with Anadolu Agency’s Editors’ Desk.
Some 507,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh since the outbreak of fresh violence on Aug. 25, according to the UN migration agency.
The refugees are fleeing a fresh security operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.
According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.
Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan highlighted the issue at this year's UN General Assembly.
‘Most persecuted people’
"Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency [TIKA], Turkish Red Crescent [Kizilay] and Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority [AFAD] are doing their best to deliver humanitarian aid to Rohingya staying in Bangladesh," Cavusoglu said.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Last October, following attacks on border posts in Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.
Cavusoglu also decried international community's indifference to the plight of Rohingya people. “Even the Muslim countries did not show interest,” he added.
Turkish Foreign Minister also mentioned that the Rakhine state is home to Rohingya people and they have been living there for a long time.
"Nobody can say that Muslims in Arakan are not a part of Myanmar," Cavusoglu said using old name of the Rakhine state.
Relations with Russia
When asked about the “technical work” planned during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Turkey, Cavusoglu said teams have been constituted not only to work on bilateral relations, but also on Syrian issue.
"The purpose of the technical work was not only to resolve the remaining issues in bilateral relations. These teams were important to stop the attacks, cease the tensions completely in Syria’s Idlib and exchange healthy and timely information.
“In bilateral relations,” Cavusoglu stressed, “we are almost at the point where we can go back to the relations with Russia that we enjoyed before downing of the [Russian] jet.”
Cavusoglu said the teams were working on strengthening the cooperation on visa and energy issues.
After Turkey shot down a Russian military jet over an airspace violation in Nov. 2015, Moscow took several measures against Ankara, including banning imports of Turkish agricultural products and ending visa-free travel for Turks.
Since last summer, Russia has relaxed the measures and lifted bans on some products, particularly citrus fruits.
During a May 3 visit to Russia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed on the resumption of trade, including food and textiles, but with the exception of tomatoes.
Last month, two leaders met in Ankara and had a "productive" meeting and exchanged views on the areas of regional politics, trade and energy.