Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Extremist Muslim group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) threatened to attack Myanmar to avenge crimes against Muslim Rohingya, unless Pakistan breaks off relations with that country and shuts its embassy in Islamabad. In a rare statement on the plight of Muslims abroad, the TTP described itself as a defender of Muslims in Myanmar, promising to "take revenge of your blood". The Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also sent a letter to Myanmar President Thein Sein, calling for an end to violence against the ethnic minority in the basis of international law.
TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan told the Pakistani government to cut ties with Myanmar and close its embassy; "Otherwise we will not only attack Burmese interests anywhere, but will also attack the Pakistani friends of Burma one by one."
Although the TTP has frequently claimed attacks on security forces in Pakistan, it is unclear whether it can operate abroad or not. For US officials however, there is evidence the group was behind a failed 2010 attempt to bomb Times Square in New York.
OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu also intervened in the matter, writing to Myanmar's president to seek assurances with regards to the safety and security of the Rohingyas as Myanmar citizens. In his letter, Ihsanoglu called on Thein Sein to take the appropriate for rapid and effective investigations into the atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims in the past few weeks.
Copies of the OIC letters were also delivered to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
In June, the District Court in Kyaukphyu, Rakhine State, sentenced three Muslim to death, after they were found guilty in the rape and killing in late May of Thida Htwe, a young Arakanese Buddhist, sparking violent sectarian clashes between Muslims and Buddhists. In one incident, an angry mob killed ten Muslims on a bus who were totally unconnected to the violence. The spiral of hatred has resulted in unrest that left 29 people dead, 16 Muslims and 13 Buddhists, as well as 38 wounded.
According to official sources, at least 2,600 homes have been burnt. Hundreds of Rohingya have tried to seek refuge in coastal Bangladesh, but were turned away by the local authorities.
Myanmar is composed of more than 135 ethnic groups, who have not always easily coexisted. In the past, the military junta has used an iron fist against the most recalcitrant of them.
Myanmar Muslims constitute about 4 per cent of a population of 60 million people, some 750,000 of them are Rohingya, according to the United Nations, mostly in Rakhine State.
Another million or more are scattered in other countries such as Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia.
After coming to power over a year ago, Thein Sein has been moving the country from military dictatorship to a limited form of democracy. For the first time since he took office, the president recently declared a state of emergency in the aforementioned area.