Asean urges Myanmar to hold army ‘accountable’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Aung San Suu Kyi arrives for a meeting with late Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi on September 12. AFP

Asean urges Myanmar to hold army ‘accountable’

MYANMAR’S neighbours in Southeast Asia have urged the country to hold those responsible for the Rohingya crisis “accountable”, Singapore said Tuesday, in a rare call for justice from within the region.

Around 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state have fled across the border to Bangladesh since August last year following a military campaign that allegedly involved murder, rape, torture and razing villages.

As global pressure has mounted over the atrocities, Myanmar formed an “Independent Commission of Enquiry”, which is chaired by former Philippine deputy foreign minister Rosario Manalo – but gave no details of the commission’s remit, powers or how long it would take to complete its investigation.

Critics have blasted the commission for its toothlessness after Manalo said her commission will not be “blaming” or “finger pointing” anybody.

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said he and his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) met on September 29 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York and discussed the situation in Rakhine.

“We expressed our grave concern with these alleged acts of violence that have led to loss of lives, injuries, destruction of homes and displacement of large numbers of people,” he said in parliament.

“To be brutally honest, this is a man-made humanitarian disaster and something which should not be happening in this day and age.”

He said the ministers told Myanmar that the commission “should be given a full mandate to investigate and to hold all those responsible fully accountable”.

Myanmar’s military has denied nearly all wrongdoing, justifying its crackdown as a legitimate means of rooting out Rohingya militants.

But after a fact-finding mission, the United Nations set up a panel to prepare indictments against Myanmar’s army chief and five other top military commanders for crimes against humanity and genocide.

Much of Myanmar’s majority Buddhist society regards the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and has for decades systematically stripped them of their rights.

Balakrishnan noted that Myanmar cannot be compelled by Asean to act as the 10-nation grouping makes decisions by consensus, which effectively gives each member veto powers.

The bloc however can influence Myanmar through “persuasion, through transparency and keeping this on the agenda” of their annual meetings, he said.

Asean members typically steer clear of openly criticising each other’s domestic policies.

Singapore, the current chair of Asean’s rotating leadership, will host a summit of the group’s leaders in November.

MOST VIEWED

  • Malaysia MP accused of ‘influencing law’

    Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP) Larry Sng arrived in Siem Reap early on Wednesday, in what was slammed by one NGO as efforts by Kuala Lumpur to “influence Cambodian law”. The Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh requested on January 30 “cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign

  • Ministries begin measures to offset EU’s EBA decision

    In the wake of the EU’s controversial announcement this week that it has begun the withdrawal process for Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential agreement, government ministries and political analysts continued to share their reactions and economic mitigation plans in preparation for the

  • Emirates launches route connecting Phnom Penh, Bangkok

    Emirates will launch a daily service on June 1 linking Phnom Penh (PNH) and Bangkok (BKK). The service from Phnom Penh to Dubai, via Bangkok, will provide more flight options to passengers travelling between the capitals of Cambodia and Thailand. Travellers from the Southeast Asian nations

  • Phnom Penh police to crack down on traffic violators

    Sar Thet, the head of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, has reorganised the duties of the capital’s traffic officers to tackle the city’s growing congestion, with a focus on those who refuse to obey the road laws. Street vendors who clog Phnom Penh’