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Thailand pushes for bigger ASEAN role in Rohingya crisis

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by Supalak Ganjanakhundee, Singapore

South East Asia’s leaders have been meeting in Singapore this week in the lead up to the next ASEAN Summit. The Rohingya crisis has been the main talking point.

Thailand says it wants to take on a greater ASEAN role in resolving the Rakhine crisis, as the group grapples with the plight of 700,000 Rohingya Muslims facing repatriation, amid grave concerns about their future.

The Rohingya issue has been discussed in almost every forum of leaders of ASEAN and their partners from the Asia Pacific during the summit this week in Singapore.

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha told his ASEAN colleagues that Thailand, which will chair the regional grouping in 2019, viewed ASEAN as capable of playing an important role in addressing the situation in Rakhine state in a constructive, tangible and sustainable manner.

The group should enhance the Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) in providing humanitarian assistance to affected people, support the commencement of credible repatriation on a meaningful scale and the improvement of the quality of life for all communities in Rakhine state, a source quoted Prayut as telling the meeting.

Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad said that he was upset with the situation in Rakhine and urged the group to make collective efforts to help Myanmar end the humanitarian crisis. The Malaysian senior leader slammed Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi as trying to defend the indefensible.

“They are actually oppressing these people to the point of killing them, mass killings,” he said on the sidelines of the official ASEAN meetings.

More than 700,000 people have taken refuge in Bangladesh since violence broke out in August last year when a militant group attacked security outposts prompting a harsh reaction from military’s clearance operation.

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi said during a meeting with her ASEAN colleagues that her government understood the international concerns over the situation in Rakhine state and she had tried to fix the problem through peaceful ways for reconciliation and unity within her country, according to a source at the meeting.

While many ASEAN leaders such as Mahathir used strong words in discussing the Rohingya crisis, most of them expressed their support to and provided a comfort level to the Nay Pyi Taw government to resolve the problem, the source said.

ASEAN has considered dispatching representatives to Myanmar to oversee the repatriation and resettlement of the refugees after Myanmar and Bangladesh reached an agreement at the end of October to send thousands of them back beginning today. But the team to be dispatched has not yet been settled, a source said.

In a meeting with Suu Kyi on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, US Vice President Mike Pence said the violence committed by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) was inexcusable.

Thailand pushes for bigger ASEAN role in Rohingya crisis | News by Thaiger

STORY: The Nation

 

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