PUTRAJAYA – Malaysia has called on Myanmar to immediately stop the persecution of the minority Rohingya community in northern Rakhine, saying it was seen as affecting the safety, security and standing of Malaysia as Myanmar’s Asean neighbour.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the humanitarian crisis was no longer an internal matter but an international one, and it must be resolved to restore stability and security in the Southeast Asian region.
In a statement released here, the ministry said Malaysia regarded the persecution as “an immediate humanitarian concern” and not a religious issue.
“The fact that only one particular ethnicity is being driven out is by definition ethnic-cleansing,” it said.
The ministry said the huge number of Rohingyas in Malaysia, estimated at 56,000, under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees banner, coupled with the hundreds of thousands in other neighbouring countries, made the Rohingya problem no longer an internal matter but an international one.
“Malaysia need not remind the spokesman of the Myanmar President’s office, U Zaw Htay, of the 2015 ‘boat people’ crisis which eventually became a regional issue, with Myanmar’s neighbours taking the brunt of the burden.
“It is with this in mind that Malaysia has repeatedly offered its assistance to the Myanmar government in finding a solution for a just and durable immediate solution to the persecution of the Rohingyas in northern Rakhine,” it said.
The ministry said that as a neighbour and a responsible member of the international community, Malaysia had the obligation to ensure that its Asean colleague took proactive steps to prevent the matter from further deteriorating.
Malaysia was well aware of the principles upon which Asean was built, being a founding member of the regional organisation, it said, adding that in 2008, all 10 Asean member states adopted the Asean Charter which binds them to the international principles of protection and promotion of human rights.
Furthermore, all Asean member states agreed to respond effectively, in accordance with the principle of comprehensive security, to threats, it said, adding that the Rohingya issue posed a threat to Malaysia’s own security.