Militant group claims it is willing to provide training, resources to anyone willing to take up fight for Rohingya.
The Pakistani Taliban on Monday urged Muslims in Myanmar to rise up and fight the country’s rulers, saying the militants’ resources and training facilities were available to help them “take up the sword.”
Ihsanullah Ihsan, spokesman for the hardline Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), said they “shared the grief” of Myanmar’s beleaguered Rohingya Muslim minority. Myanmar refuses to recognize most of its 1.3 million Rohingya as citizens and places a series of restrictions on them, such as family size, movements and access to jobs.
The country’s impoverished western state of Rakhine has become a tinderbox of tension between the Buddhist majority and the Rohingya, many of whom live in displacement camps after deadly unrest erupted in 2012.
“I address Burma’s youth: take up the sword and kill in the path of God. No doubt, God is with us,” Ihsan said in an audio message sent to media, using Myanmar’s former name. “Our [training] centers, our resources, training, people, everything is available to provide comfort to you.”
Roughly four percent of Myanmar’s 51 million people are Muslim, with the Rohingya making up slightly more than half of the community. The plight of the minority community is beginning to stir public opinion in Pakistan.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has reportedly set up a special committee to suggest what Pakistan can do to help the Rohingya, and on Sunday protesters burned the Myanmar flag in Multan.
Ihsan said “protest demonstrations, processions, marches, condemnation resolutions” had little impact, saying only jihad would make the Myanmar rulers take notice. The TTP has killed thousands of people in its bloody fight against the Pakistani state since 2007 but has rarely shown much interest in taking its struggle beyond the country’s borders. The militant group has been on the back foot since the military began a major offensive against its hideouts in June last year. In recent years various violent Islamist groups have issued messages of support for Rohingya and exhortations to jihad, including Al Qaeda. But the Rohingya have thus far shown no appetite for adopting their violent rhetoric or actions.