Burma Times Special Report: April 28, 2015
For Rohingya Muslims hoping that Asean nations (especially Malaysia and Indonesia) will lift them out of their misery, Malaysia’s foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman’s words that the Rohingya crisis should be solved within the regional bloc might appear to be Godsend.
International observers have repeatedly blamed some Asean countries, especially Thailand and Malaysia for not doing enough to address the concerns of the boat people who escape their country in face of one of the longest running ethnic cleansing campaigns in the world. A recent report by rights group Fortify Rights alleges that Malaysia and Thailand along with Bangladesh have failed to meet minimum standards in the prevention of human trafficking.
This will no doubt sadden Rohingya Muslims who dream that Muslim nations in the backyard will do more out of brotherly concerns to pressurise Burma to put a brake on the ethnic cleansing policy.
So far they have been bitterly disappointed especially in regards to Malaysia. While a sympathetic populace in Indonesia has often influenced their government to call for a solution, Malaysia has strictly regarded the Rohingya genocide as Burma’s internal matter and refused to meddle.
There are some signs that this may change. The Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights grouping has also said that the bloc must abandon its policy of not interfering in each others’ affairs and hold discussions on the Rohingya issue.
Yet most people are not optimistic. According to Chris Lewa, director of Arakan Project “…it is doubtful that this issue will be put on the agenda in view of ASEAN principle of non-interference in member states’ internal affairs.”