Mobilizing Support for the Rohingya Crisis: Malaysia’s Call to OIC and ASEAN
Malaysia Advocates for Rohingya Assistance
Malaysia has called upon the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a united front in addressing the Rohingya crisis. The appeal was made by Malaysian Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, who expressed the urgency for the two organizations to call for a de-escalation of violence in Myanmar, particularly from its military authorities. The call was made during an OIC meeting held concurrently with the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Deepening Crisis in Myanmar
According to Dr Zambry, the situation in Myanmar has significantly deteriorated since the military coup in February 2021. Countries like Malaysia and Bangladesh are experiencing the fallout of the crisis, providing shelter for approximately 200,000 and one million Rohingya refugees respectively. The Foreign Minister highlighted the ongoing plight of the Rohingya Muslims who face unlawful killings, sexual violence, and systematic evictions from their homes.
International Court of Justice and the Rohingya Case
Furthermore, Dr. Zambry underscored the need for more funding for Gambia’s legal case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). To this effect, Malaysia had contributed US$100,000 to the OIC Fund for Rohingya in 2020. The Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of Rohingya Muslims developing resilience and self-reliance for their potential return to Myanmar. He stressed the need for the Myanmar Government to ensure the safe, voluntary, and dignified repatriation of displaced Rohingya Muslims.
Upcoming Bilateral Meeting
A scheduled bilateral meeting between Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was also mentioned. The leaders are expected to discuss Islamophobia and global strategies to combat it. This meeting is set to take place alongside the United Nations General Assembly.
International Response to the Rohingya Crisis
Despite the escalating crisis, the international response has been varied, with some countries imposing sanctions on Myanmar’s military officials and providing aid to Rohingya refugees. However, the Myanmar government continues to deny accusations of carrying out a military campaign that forced over seven hundred thousand Rohingya to flee.
Rohingya: An Unrecognized Community
The Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority, have been rendered stateless by the discriminatory policies of Myanmar’s government. Despite tracing their roots in Myanmar back to the fifteenth century, they are considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The Rohingya have been denied recognition as one of the country’s 135 official ethnic groups, leading to their widespread displacement.
ASEAN’s Role in the Crisis
The crisis in Myanmar has far-reaching implications, potentially destabilizing the entire region. ASEAN’s response has been criticized for its lack of decisiveness and reluctance to confront the realities on the ground in Myanmar. However, Malaysia’s open condemnation of the crisis and its call for more substantial action by ASEAN sets a new precedent for the regional bloc’s response.
As the crisis in Myanmar continues to unfold, international organizations and nations need to intensify their efforts to mitigate the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims. Malaysia’s call to action underscores the critical role of collective international response in addressing the issue. It also highlights the importance of fostering resilience among the displaced Rohingyas, preparing them for a potential return to their homeland under safe, voluntary, and dignified conditions.
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