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‘People-centred’ Asean should resolve Rohingya crisis

Rohingya flee from Myanmar - FILE PHOTO

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By Mohammad Sadek

The indigenous ethnic Rohingya minority of Myanmar face heinous genocidal actions committed by the military against them on a daily basis.

It is ironic that Myanmar is a member state of Asean, which is currently proclaiming itself as a people-centred regional grouping.

But the fundamental right to citizenship of the Rohingya community has been stripped by the Myanmar government, which is seemingly committed to the annihilation of this ethnic minority

Three million Rohingya are scattered around the world, seeking a safer life. Most of them languish as refugees in the Muslim world or in the member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). These countries have no laws to protect refugees and asylum seekers and they haven’t ratified the convention on refugee status.

On humanitarian grounds, the Rohingya are allowed to stay in their host countries and are not forcibly repatriated to their country of origin. But then again, they are not fully welcome and are often considered a threat or burden to the host countries.

Thus far, regional bodies and international organisations have failed to ease the plight of the Rohingya refugees. So, displaced Rohingya communities have to live in poor conditions and are sometimes subjected to modern-day slavery.

No particular body or influential organisation is redressing this issue. Many different groups and experts have brought up the issue on various platforms, but no solutions have been found yet.

Many Rohingya lack education and so potential employers are reluctant to hire them as skilled workers. Their lack of proper documentation prevents them from securing proper employment or from owning property.

READ MORE:  Deadly sea crossings need urgent action to save Rohingya lives

The vulnerable Rohingya are subjected to hate speech, discrimination and defamation. The Myanmar military and other quarters spread fallacies about the Rohingya, who are often exploited by others.

Hardly any Rohingya group is fully engaged in advocating for their cause even as they face multi-dimensional threats and challenges, not only in Myanmar but also in their countries of refuge.

Regional and international bodies must come forward and aim to ease the plight of the Rohingyas. They need to develop comprehensive strategies that will provide effective and durable solutions. Look into the basic needs of the Rohingya.

To enhance strategies and policy to end the humanitarian catastrophe in their regions, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) and Asean should take concrete steps to provide workable solutions without further delay.

Asean should establish a special Rohingya caucus focused on monitoring Rohingya issues and deliberating with the Myanmar authorities. The goal should be to end the current crisis and reinstate national status for the Rohingya.

Saarc must develop a Rohingya crisis management team to work with the Asean special Rohingya caucus. Together, they should engage with the Myanmar authorities on how to resolve the crisis.

The governments of China and Russia need to assert diplomatic pressure on Myanmar to resolve the plight of the Rohingya people. Both these superpowers are permanent members of the UN Security Council and are key supporters of Myanmar. So they should take the initiative to table a motion to end the stateless Rohingya problem to facilitate regional peace and stability in the South and Southeast Asian regions.

READ MORE:  The unresolved Rohingya crisis

As a Rohingya hosting country, Malaysia, through the formation of a Malaysian parliamentary caucus on Rohingya, .

With no obvious solution in sight, steps should be taken to expose the Rohingya to the values of multiculturalism, inclusivity and diversity. Establish Rohingya education centres and community networks to facilitate this.

Do not discount the rich human capital potential of the Rohingya. The Rohingya are our fellow human beings, who can play vital roles in developing sustainability, educational prosperity, a more inclusive humanitarian discourse and peacemaking.

To formulate strategies to end the humanitarian catastrophe in the South and Southeast Asian regions, both Saarc and Asean should take a firm stance and act without further delay.

Mohammad Sadek, a democracy activist and human rights defender, has been a mandate refugee of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 1992. He has worked in community transformation and grassroots development as a teacher, community health worker, democratic leadership trainer, social worker and writer on Burma affairs, particularly on the Arakan and Rohingya

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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