Malaysia FM Saifuddin Bin Abdullah says perpetrators of violence against Myanmar’s minority must “be brought to justice,” in talks with members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathered in Thailand conference.
Malaysia on Saturday said the perpetrators of violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority must “be brought to justice,” in sharp comments delivered at a normally tame regional summit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In talks on Saturday with Southeast Asian counterparts, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Bin Abdullah called for the “perpetrators of the Rohingya issue to be brought to justice,” his ministry said in Tweet.
He also said repatriation of the minority from the fetid, overcrowded refugee camps of Bangladesh “must include the citizenship of the Rohingya.”
Rohingya denied citizenship
Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as citizens, instead officially labelling them “Bengalis,” short-hand for illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.
A military crackdown in 2017 drove more than 740,000 Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh, carrying accounts of rape, mass killings and the razing of villages.
UN investigators have called for Myanmar’s top generals to be tried for genocide.
But Myanmar’s army and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi have defended the action as necessary to flush out Rohingya rebels from Rakhine state.
Malaysia, a Muslim country which hosts a large Rohingya refugee population, is one of the few members of the ASEAN to speak up for the minority.
The 10-member bloc normally abides by a principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
— ASEAN Strategic (@aseanstrategic) June 22, 2019
Reluctance to go back
ASEAN was heavily criticised by rights groups after a report it commissioned lauded Myanmar’s work on the repatriation issue.
Rakhine state, the western region home to the Rohingya, remains cut by violence.
Only a handful of the Muslim minority have returned under a discredited repatriation deal.
Myanmar has not offered citizenship to the mass of Rohingya in Bangladesh’s camps should they return, while the minority also want safety guarantees and restitution of seized lands and torched villages before agreeing to go back.