Burma Times: 21 May 2015
Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s foreign affairs ministers and the US deputy secretary of state will raise Burma’s treatment of Rohingyas
Foreign diplomats were converging on Burma on Thursday, seeking to discuss the Asian migrant crisis which is widely believed to have its roots in the mass fleeing of the country’s persecuted Rohingya minority.
Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s foreign affairs ministers, Anifah Aman and Retno Marsudi, were due in the capital, Naypyidaw, a day after the two countries agreed to provide temporary shelter for 7,000 migrants – Bangladeshis and refugee Rohingyas – thought to be stranded at sea.
The offer was hailed as a breakthrough on the migrant crisis that has engulfed the region for nearly two weeks.
The US deputy secretary of state, Antony Blinken, will also be in Burma and said during a visit to Jakarta on Wednesday that he would raise the treatment of the Muslim Rohingyas in the western Rakhine state with the Burmese government.
“We will be talking directly to the government of Myanmar about its own responsibilities to improve conditions in Rakhine state so that people don’t feel that their only choice is to put their lives at risk by leaving and taking to the sea,” he said.
Anifah will meet Burma’s foreign affairs minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, to discuss “the issue of irregular movement of people, human trafficking and people smuggling in the south-east Asia”, the Malaysian state news agency, Bernama said.
Burma, a Buddhist majority country, reiterated that it would not recognise the Rohingya and insisted they are illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.
At the Wednesday meeting Malaysia and Indonesia said the shelter offer comes provided that the international community would help to resettle the migrants within a year. Thailand, which was also at the talks, said it would no longer turn away migrants stranded in Thai waters.
The foreign affairs ministers had reportedly said they would not actively search for the migrants but on Thursday Malaysia’s premier, Najib Razak, ordered the navy and maritime officials to launch a search-and-rescue mission for the boat people.
“We have to prevent loss of life,” Najib said in a tweet.
The US, Philippines and even Gambiahave offered assistance or possible resettlement of Rohingya, evoking the coordinated response to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of boat people from Vietnam in the late 1970s.
The impoverished west African nation of Gambia said it will take all Rohingya refugees as part of its “sacred duty” to help fellow Muslims.
The US State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said Washington “stands ready to help the countries of the region bear the burden and save lives today”, adding that Washington would help the UN to set up protection centres, and would consider requests to resettle some refugees.
Nearly 3,000 migrants have swum to shore or been rescued off Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand over the past 10 days after a Thai crackdown on human trafficking following the grim discovery of mass graves along the Thai-Malaysia border.
International groups have condemned the nations as playing “maritime ping-pong” by pushing away boats before the breakthrough yesterday.
Source The Guardian