Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused the security forces in Myanmar of waging a “Buddhist terror” against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the country, hundreds of thousands of whom have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Erdogan, who has repeatedly highlighted the plight of the Rohingya, again accused the Yangon government of carrying out a “genocide” against the people in Rakhine state.
In a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan lamented the failure of the international community to lay sanctions against the Myanmar government over its campaign.
“There is a very clear genocide over there,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan, who has held talks by phone with Myanmar’s key leader the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung Sang Suu Kyi, added: “Buddhists always get represented as envoys of goodwill.”
“At the moment, there is a clear Buddhist terror in Myanmar… I don’t know how you can gloss over this with yoga, schmoga. This is a fact here. And all humanity needs to know this.”
More than 430,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled across the border to Bangladesh from a military campaign which the UN says likely amounts to ethnic cleansing of the stateless minority.
Before the most recent surge of violence, there were over one million Rohingyas in Myanmar’s restive Rakhine state in the west of the overwhelmingly Buddhist country.
Erdogan, himself a pious Muslim, takes a sharp interest in the fate of Muslim communities across the world and notably sees himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause.
Returning for a key personal theme, he lambasted the international community for being quick to denounce “Islamic terror” but not “Christian terror”, “Jewish terror” or “Buddhist terror”.