Malaysian opposition parties have called on Southeast Asian countries to be firmer with Myanmar to end decades-old violence against Rohingya Muslims in western Rakhine State.
Opposition leader Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said Tuesday that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional bloc should further pressure Myanmar to immediately cease violence in Rakhine, rather than merely initiating discussions with the country.
“ASEAN’s statement of merely initiating a discussion should have been done 30 years ago… not now when the matter is at worst situation,” she told a press conference, also attended by leaders of parties in the Hope Pact opposition coalition.
The press conference was held amid ongoing operations by Myanmar’s military in northern Rakhine launched after fatal Oct. 9 attacks on police outposts, since when United Nations reports say an estimated 27,000 Rohingya have fled into neighboring Bangladesh.
Myanmar has said that at least 93 people — 17 police and soldiers and 76 alleged “attackers” (including six who reportedly died during interrogation) — were killed and some 575 suspects have been detained for alleged involvement in the Oct. 9 attacks and during the subsequent military crackdown.
Rohingya advocacy groups, however, claim around 400 Rohingya — described by the UN as among the most persecuted groups worldwide — were killed in the military operations, women were raped and Rohingya villages torched.
Humanitarian outfits have called for an independent probe into the initial attacks, the ongoing operations and reported rapes and rights abuses in Rakhine, as with the area placed under military lockdown, rights groups and international reporters have been unable to enter.
Since last month, Malaysia has heavily criticized Myanmar’s government and military over the violence, with Prime Minister Najib Razak and his cabinet referring to it as “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing”.
After Malaysia’s government organized a Razak-led Dec. 4 protest against the violence, Myanmar accused Malaysia of meddling in its internal affairs.
On Tuesday, Ismail said that Malaysia — as a member of ASEAN — should also play a more assertive role in ensuring peace in northern Rakhine.
“We support whatever steps taken by the [Malaysian] government and ASEAN thus far… But we feel there must be more pressure,” she stressed.
“Therefore we urge for an end to the violence against the Rohingya and to step up humanitarian efforts and assistance.”
Ismail said peace in Myanmar is crucial not only for the Rohingya but also for other minorities such as ethnic Karen Christians, who she described as “equally suppressed”.
Last week, Myanmar hosted a regional meeting in Yangon in which State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi briefed ASEAN foreign ministers on developments in Rakhine following global criticisms of the military crackdown.
Malaysia has insisted that the Rohingya crisis is no longer a domestic matter, warning that if it is not urgently addressed it will impact the security and stability of the region.
Malaysia hosts more than 54,000 Rohingya registered with the UN’s refugee agency the UNHCR, along with more than 41,400 Chin and 10,900 other Myanmar Muslims.
According to the last census in Malaysia, there were some 135,000 Rohingya in the country in 2014.
Source by: http://aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/malaysian-opposition-condemns-violence-against-rohingya