The plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is a regional concern, according to Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, who called on the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to coordinate humanitarian aid and investigate alleged atrocities committed against them.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Aman was speaking on December 19 at a meeting of the 10-nation bloc in Yangon called by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi after weeks of reports that the army has killed, raped and arbitrarily arrested Rohingya civilians.
Myanmar has denied the accusations, saying many of the reports are fabricated, and it insists the strife in Rakhine State, where many Rohingya live, is an internal matter.
But Anifah said events in Rakhine State were a matter of regional security and stability, noting that about 56,000 Rohingya now live in Muslim-majority Malaysia having fled previous unrest in Myanmar, reported Reuters.
Anifah, who appeared to leave the meeting early, also warned that Islamic State militants “could be taking advantage of this situation”.
In a separate report, Voice of American (VOA) online noted that the December 19 meeting was the first high-level regional briefing on what’s been happening in western Myanmar, in a predominantly Muslim area of Rakhine.
“We had a very transparent and honest exchange of views during the meeting,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, which was attended by Aung San Suu Kyi in her role as Myanmar’s foreign minister.
Myanmar will update ASEAN member countries regularly, Marsudi added.