• Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019
  • Last Update : 07:41 pm

Mahathir: Asean must press Suu Kyi over Rohingya crisis

  • Published at 12:04 pm December 17th, 2018
File photo: Myanmar border guard police patrol the fence in the 'no man's land' zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh border as seen from Maungdaw on August 24, 2018 AFP

Over 720,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh fleeing the violence thaterupted in Myanmar in 2017

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) must put pressure on Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi over the Rohingya crisis.

He said tough measures should be taken to put the pressure on Myanmar and Suu Kyi to end atrocities against the Rohingyas, reports The Nation.

The article published on Sunday said Thailand will chair Asean next year.

Over 720,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh fleeing the violence thaterupted in Myanmar on August 25, 2017. 

Last August, the insurgent attacks on security outposts prompted a heavy-handed “clearance operation” by the Myanmar military that claimed thousands of lives. 

The residents of Rakhine province faced arson, torture, gang rape and murder, and many were forced to flee their homes. The United Nations and United States labeled the onslaught by the Tatmadaw as “genocide.”

In an interview with The Nation, Mahathir said: “We can appeal to the government of Myanmar, but if there is no response and the atrocities continue, Asean must support international moves to stop this abuse of authority and injustice in Myanmar.”

“Asean has to learn how to bring pressure on governments that are not treating their own people with fairness and justice,” he said.

He added: “If Asean just allows these people to be massacred, it doesn’t seem we are acting responsibly.” 

The Malaysian president said he and other foreign leaders had urged Suu Kyi to help the Rohingyas, just as other nations rallied to protect her when she was a victim of injustice under Myanmar’s former military regime from 1989 to 2010. 

“Aung San Suu Kyi once fought against the military, but now she is a member of the government and is not able to have any influence over the military,” Mahathir said. “She [Suu Kyi] should not associate herself with the military. They were unjust to her and now they are unjust to the Rohingya.” 

Mahathir also pointed out the Rohingyas have refused to go back to Myanmar from Bangladesh, fearing for their safety should they return. 

Stating that many thousands of Rohingyas have sought asylum in Indonesia and Malaysia, he said they also hadwanted to send the refugees back to Myanmar, but they did want to go. 

“They might stay longer. They won’t become Malaysian citizens, but they will be [accepted as] refugees,” he said while visiting Thailand.