||Asean Affairs 3 July 2013
Malaysia urges Myanmar to quell violence
A Malaysian government minister on Sunday urged Myanmar to quell the current problems of inter-communal violence by taking a much stronger stance on bringing perpetrators to justice.
“Burma has to address the problem,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told reporters at a summit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministers in Brunei.
The Malaysian response comes after violent clashes between Myanmar’s Buddhist and Muslim Rohingyas in Malaysia in recent weeks.
“I know it’s complex,” he said, “but they have to address the problem in a transparent manner so that we can see what actions had been taken … I think the perpetrators have to be brought to justice so that it does not occur again.”
According to Reuters, Anifah said he had been satisfied by his Myanmar counterpart’s response that the government was taking the issue seriously.
Malaysia’s urging of Myanmar to take a stronger stance against the issue illustrates the problem is straining relations with Myanmar’s Muslim-majority neighbouring state.
The minister also claimed that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had voiced concern that Asean’s Muslim-majority nations were failing to do enough in demanding Myanmar take serious measures in the face of persecution, prompting Malaysia to speak out against its fellow ASEAN member.
Malaysia’s Bernama news agency reported that Anifah had asked Myanmar to permit an OIC contact group to visit the country and be given full cooperation.
Ethnic Rohingya Muslims have fled in their thousands since sectarian violence first erupted last summer. Worsening living conditions have also driven the ethnic group to look elsewhere for refuge. Many have drowned or been rescued in recent months whilst attempting to cross the Andaman Sea on their way to Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia.
The UN refugee agency says about 28,000 Rohingyas are registered as refugees in Malaysia, but groups representing them say the real number of Myanmar Muslim immigrants is much higher as a result of violence over this past year.