Malaysia slams Myan­mar over its ‘eth­nic cleans­ing’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Malaysia ac­cused Myan­mar of en­gag­ing in the “eth­nic cleans­ing” of its Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity yes­ter­day, as for­mer UN chief Kofi An­nan vis­ited a burned out vil­lage in strife-torn Rakhine state. Tens of thou­sands of Mus­lim Ro­hingya have fled their homes since a bloody crack­down by the Myan­mar army in the western state of Rakhine sparked by a string of deadly at­tacks on po­lice bor­der posts in early Oc­to­ber. “The fact that only one par­tic­u­lar eth­nic­ity is be­ing driven out is by def­i­ni­tion eth­nic cleans­ing,” Malaysia’s for­eign min­istry said in an un­usu­ally strong­ly­worded state­ment.

Myan­mar has balked at such crit­i­cism, say­ing the Rakhine cri­sis is an in­ter­nal is­sue, but in­ter­na­tional pres­sure on the coun­try is mount­ing. Malaysia’s state­ment noted that hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ro­hingya have fled to neigh­bor­ing coun­tries in re­cent years-in­clud­ing some 56,000 to Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity Malaysia. That, the state­ment said, “makes this mat­ter no longer an in­ter­nal mat­ter but an in­ter­na­tional mat­ter”.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing, a con­voy car­ry­ing the for­mer UN chief ar­rived out­side the Ro­hingya vil­lage of Wapeik, which has seen sig­nif­i­cant dam­age from fire. Non state me­dia jour­nal­ists were stopped by po­lice from com­ing close to the con­voy or en­ter­ing the vil­lage, an AFP pho­tog­ra­pher on scene said. An­nan is not ex­pected to brief the me­dia un­til Tues­day-af­ter his visit to Rakhine ends.

Myan­mar has re­stricted ac­cess to the north­ern part of the state and says its mil­i­tary is hunt­ing down the mil­i­tants be­hind the at­tacks. But rights groups and Ro­hingya refugees who have made it to Bangladesh have ac­cused the mil­i­tary of killing civil­ians and raz­ing en­tire vil­lages as a form of col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment. The Ro­hingya have long faced per­se­cu­tion and gov­ern­ment re­stric­tions on move­ment that many have likened to apartheid.

Much of Myan­mar views the Ro­hingya as il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Bangladesh even though many have lived there for gen­er­a­tions. Be­fore the lat­est vi­o­lence broke out, Myan­mar’s de facto civil­ian leader Aung San Suu Kyi formed a commission tasked with try­ing to solve the Rakhine cri­sis, headed by An­nan. That task has been made con­sid­er­ably harder since fight­ing broke out. The No­bel Peace Prize win­ner has also been crit­i­cised for not de­fend­ing the Ro­hingya.

Since win­ning a his­toric elec­tion last year, she has rarely spo­ken out on the is­sue. But dur­ing a trip to Sin­ga­pore this week she gave a rare in­ter­view in which she hit out at in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism. “I would ap­pre­ci­ate it so much if the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity would help us to main­tain peace and sta­bil­ity, and to make progress in build­ing bet­ter re­la­tions be­tween the two com­mu­ni­ties, in­stead of al­ways drum­ming up cause for big­ger fires of re­sent­ment,” Suu Kyi told the sta­te­owned Chan­nel News Asia. Her hands are some­what tied by Myan­mar’s no­to­ri­ously abu­sive mil­i­tary. Un­der the coun­try’s junta-era con­sti­tu­tion, the army still con­trols the key Home, Bor­der and De­fence min­istries and has a par­lia­men­tary veto. — AFP

YAN­GON: A group of Myan­mar Bud­dhist monks stage a protest out­side the Malaysian em­bassy in Yan­gon to denounce Malaysia’s Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak’s sup­port for the per­se­cuted Mus­lim Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity. — AFP

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