No OIC Office in Sittwe: DG of Border Affairs Ministry

Sittwe: Lawmaker Dr Aye Maug said yesterday that Director General of Border Affairs Ministry U Htwe Hla told a meeting that the government does not plan to allow the opening of an OIC office in Sittwe, the capital of strife-hit Arakan state.

No OIC Office in Sittwe

The DG revealed this when he met with 10 Arakanese leaders at the Arakan State Border Affairs Ministry office in Sittwe on Saturday.

U Htwe Hla flew to Sittwe from Nay Pyi Daw to gauge people’s attitudes on the OIC plan to open an office in Sittwe, after a serious of protests against OIC took place there.

“He invited us to discuss the issue of the OIC. We freely and openly discussed the issue of their opening an office in Sittwe with him. Later he told us that there is not any plan for the OIC to open an office in Sittwe,” said Dr Aye Maung.

However, it has been reported by many Burmese news agencies that the Burmese government signed an agreement with the OIC on 11 September, allowing for the opening of two OIC offices – in Sittwe and Rangoon – in order for them to provide assistance to victims of the recent sectarian violence in Arakan.

Dr Aye Maung quoted U Htwe Hla as saying that he totally denied these reports, and that his government has not made such an agreement with the OIC.

It is first time a high-ranking official has come to Arakan to discuss such matters with local people, and it comes following a series of protests against plans made by the reformist quasi-civilian government which took power in 2010.

U Aung Mra Kyaw attended the meeting accompanied by his party president Dr Aye Maung. He said that the meeting was fruitful, adding that views were exchanged freely on the issue.

“The Director General U Htwe Hla said he would take the facts collected in the meeting to Nay Pyi Daw for submission to President Thein Sein and Border Affairs Minister Lt Gen Thein Htay. We hope the high authorities will understand our people’s stand against the plans of the OIC to open an office in Sittwe,” U Aung Mra Kyaw said.

A series of protests against the OIC took place in Sittwe over the last a few days, with people concerned that the OIC would interfere in Arakan affairs under the name of humanitarian assistance if they were to open an office in Sittwe.

10 Arakanese leaders including Dr Aye Maung, prominent community leaders U Shwe Tun Aung and U Maung Tun Kyaw and U Kyaw Zaw Oo from local NGO Wanlat Foundation attended the meeting.

It has been learnt that U Htwe Hla left Sittwe for Nay Pyi Daw soon after the discussions with Arakanese leaders.