Statement on Rohingya Crisis

During the recent Shangri La Dialogue, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned the Rohingya crisis and how it “…requires a response at the source, and not just at sea. It also requires countries to act decisively against the traffickers and put a stop to this organised racket.”

MARUAH agrees with Prime Minister Lee and urges our ASEAN nations to find a long-term solution to the displacement of the Rohingyas. This is especially urgent, in light of the recent discovery of mass graves in Malaysia and Thailand. This is in addition to the suffering we see on the boats at sea.

As mentioned earlier, the Rohingyas, according to many historical accounts, have been part of the Burmese landscape from as far back as the 15th Century. They are a part of ASEAN and cannot be evicted from the collective consciousness and community of ASEAN.

Myanmar/Burma cannot continue to deny their existence by making them stateless or by not wanting to discuss on matters related to the Rohingyas if the ‘R’ word is used. It is time for Myanmar/Burma to show compassion and respect for a people who have been in their midst for a long time. It is also time for ASEAN to act collectively and ask for measures from Myanmar/Burma and support the efforts of the country as it tries to resolve the Rohingya issue.

MARUAH believes one of the significant steps ASEAN states can take to protect the rights of the Rohingyas and other refugees is to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention, which says the rights of refugee have to be upheld “without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin.”

At this junction in ASEAN’s growth as a community, it is imperative that we begin implementing long-term solutions to transnational problems.

We cannot allow the degradation of any ASEAN individual or group’s dignity.

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