THE precarious situation of the Rohingya in Rakhine must be addressed urgently before it becomes a fertile breeding ground for extremists, says Foreign Minister Anifah Aman.
Anifah said this fear could manifest as the Islamic State (IS) was seeking to make inroads into Southeast Asia and South Asia, and would have no qualms taking advantage of the crisis.
“Should this happen, Malaysia and neighbouring countries would bear the brunt of serious instability to the region,” he said during the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Contact Group’s session on the Rohingya Muslim Minority in Myanmar, at the United Nations General Assembly building in New York yesterday.
Anifah reiterated Malaysia’s commitment to extending support and assisting the Myanmar government in addressing the complex challenges in Rakhine, but that the latter must also do its part by curbing military action and allowing unimpeded access for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
“We urge the government of Myanmar to ensure the return of all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) with safety and dignity to Rakhine State, including the restoration of their status since the revocation of their rights in 1982,” he said.
Anifah said Malaysia also called on Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to implement the recommendations of the nine-member Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, which was chaired by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.
The findings of the commission stated that the Myanmar government must scrap restrictions on movement and citizenship of the Rohingya to avoid fuelling “extremism”.
The commission also stated that while Myanmar had every right to defend its own territory, a highly militarised response was unlikely to bring peace to the crisis area.
“We must act now,” Anifah said.
“We must move beyond rhetoric. We must save lives. We must ensure that the ancestors’ land of the Rohingya is restored.” – Bernama, September 20, 2017.