Malaysia urges Myanmar to take action over acts of genocide

Zanariah Abdul Mutalib

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has urged the Myanmar government to take action against those who perpetrated acts of violence against the Rohingya community and other minorities in the country, especially in the Rakhine State, according to international laws.

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released on 24 August 2018 confirmed Malaysia’s worst fear that the crimes perpetrated against the Rohingya people in Myanmar since 25 August 2017 bear a resemblance to the acts of genocides committed in the past that have marred the history of humanity.

“Clearly, the crimes described in the report are consistent with those outlined in the 1948 Genocide Convention, which I must repeat, Myanmar is Party to. For this reason, The Myanmar Government has the primary responsibility to take actions against the perpetrators of the crimes under international law committed against the Rohingyas and other minorities in Myanmar, especially in Rakhine State.

“If Myanmar proves to be unwilling or incapable of ensuring justice in this regard, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has the responsibility to establish an international judicial mechanism to try those individuals most responsible for these crimes. This too was clearly the view of the majority of the Members of the UNSC expressed during the open briefing held on 28 August 2018 in New York,” he said in a statement.

He said the UN report, drawing on meticulous and objective research, provides incontrovertible proof of what the Myanmar military and its government has been denying all this time; intentional, concerted, systematic, consistent, and planned acts and policies to destroy and remove, in particular ethnic Rohingyas, from Myanmar.

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah. Pic by NSTP / MOHD YUSNI ARIFFIN

“It should be noted that the Myanmar military and government were given ample opportunity to provide their side of the story – opportunities that they repeatedly did not avail themselves of. Therefore, they cannot now say that the report is biased, unfair and driven by a political agenda,” he said.

He emphasised that Malaysia’s assessment of Myanmar remains the same, which is that a strong and prosperous Southeast Asia requires a united, prosperous and stable Myanmar, one which is fully integrated into the global community and able to play its rightful role.

He said that than 20 years ago Malaysia, under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership, strived towards bringing Myanmar into the Asean fold. He said the inclusion of Myanmar, as well as Cambodia, Laos, and Viet Nam, as members of Asean has brought innumerable benefits nor only for them, but the region and the world as a whole.

“However, aspirations for Myanmar will not be fulfilled if it continues, or refuses to account for policies which reflect Mankind’s darkest past, and which has no role in a civilised world.

“As a member of Asean, Myanmar must ascribe to the ideals of the Asean Charter. These include for Asean members to respect the fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the promotion of social justice,” he said.

Saifuddin said Malaysia will continue to speak about the plight of the Rohingyas.

“We will also continue to call for international support for the Government of Bangladesh, in which close to a million Rohingyas have found refuge. As we work towards a sustainable solution to the situation, one which will preserve the dignity and lives of the Rohingyas, the international community must do all it can to support Bangladesh. Malaysia has done so, and will continue to do so,” he said. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd