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Malaysia & ASEAN Must Be Firm On The Rohingya Issue

Malaysia and the ASEAN countries must take immediate action to put a stop to the Rohingya tragedy in Myanmar.

The recent UN’s Human Rights Council’s Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has found that “…gross human rights violations and abuses” have taken place in the Rakhine and other states in the country.

It also argues that “… serious crimes under international law have been committed that warrant criminal investigation and prosecution” such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

These include allegations of “…murder; torture; cruel treatment; outrages upon personal dignity; attacking civilians; displacing civilians; pillaging; attacking protected objects; taking hostages; sentencing or execution without due process; as well as rape, sexual slavery, and sexual violence” in the Rakhine.

The report also calls for the perpetrators of these crimes to be prosecuted under international law, including the head of the Myanmar military Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing—who is the country’s true ruler.

The repercussions against Myanmar’s regime following the report has been swift. Facebook has reportedly blocked the social media of senior Myanmar leaders for spreading hate speech, including 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account and 52 Facebook pages followed by some 12 million people.

Moreover, 132 sitting legislators from five Southeast Asian countries via the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) had on 24 August 2018 released a joint statement calling “…on members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Since Myanmar is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the ICC does not have jurisdiction in the country and only the UNSC can trigger an investigation by the Court.”

The Government of Malaysia must support the move to bring the perpetrators of the atrocities in Myanmar to justice.

Beyond continuing to provide humanitarian aid to the displaced, it also must push ASEAN to take a firmer stand against the veritable genocide that is taking place there.

Specifically, Article 2(2)(e) of the ASEAN Charter and other clauses that animate the so-called principle of non-interference in the “internal affairs” of member states must be amended to exclude extreme cases—such as genocide.
It is simply the right thing to do.

ASEAN is the best and most viable platform to end the suffering of the Rohingya and other conflicts in Myanmar.

The latter’s accession to the regional grouping in 1997—which Malaysia played a key role in facilitating—arguably played a crucial part in its opening up.

Malaysia and ASEAN hence cannot abdicate their responsibility for ending the horrible atrocities that are taking place in Myanmar.

The oppressions and killing must stop, the fighting ended, the displaced returned to their homes and genuine peace as well as integration created in Myanmar.

If its leaders refuse to do so, the international community must step in.