Monday, July 30, 2012

Indonesia, Asean urged not to remain silent on atrocities againts Rohingya by Fardah

           Jakarta, July 30, 2012 (ANTARA) - As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Indonesia as a prominent ASEAN member country seem to remain silent on the violence against Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar, the public protests are in fact mounting.
         Last Friday, the Rohingya-Arakan Information and Advocacy Center (PIARA) staged a rally and eventually sealed a gate of the ASEAN Secretariat building for disappointing that none of ASEAN Secretariat's officials was willing to meet them.
          Sugeng Wiyatno, a rally coordinator from the Indonesian Muslim Students Movement (KAMMI), said PIARA condemned the discrimination against Rohingyas by the Myanmar Government which put blind eyes on the oppression and human rights violation against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Arakan Province, Myanmar.
         PIARA urged ASEAN to expel Myanmar as a member state for violating the visa free agreement among ASEAN member countries. Myanmar has so far prevent humanitarian activists from entering Arakan, he said.
          It also asked the Indonesian government to boycott the 27th SEA Games to be held in Myanmar next year.
          Medical Emergency and Rescue Committee (MER-C) Indonesia has urged the Myanmar government to allow reporters and volunteers to enter Myanmar to provide relief assistance to Rohingya Muslims.
          "We hope that the Myanmar government allows us to help Rohingya Muslims who are currently being discriminated against," Presidium Chairman of MER-C Indonesia Sarbini Abdul Murad told ANTARA over the weekend.  
      MER-C has also requested the Indonesian foreign ministry to help its volunteers enter Myanmar.  
      Serious inter-communal disturbances between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims had taken place in Rakhine state since May, leading the Government to declare a state of emergency there.
         According to reports, 650 of nearly one million Rohingya Muslims
have been murdered as of June 28. On the other hand, 1,200 others are missing and 90,000 more have been displaced. However, other reports said that around 6,000 Muslims were killed in Myanmar.
         In Kuala Lumpur, the chairman of the Indonesian Youth National Committee (KNPI) chapter, Sagir Alva, said the genocide against Rohingyas in Myanmar is a gross human right violation and oppression which is disgraceful to the ASEAN community, including Indonesia, a prominent member of ASEAN.
         "Indonesia, as an ASEAN founder, should be able to pressure ASEAN
and the United Nations to solve the problems facing the Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar," Alva said Sunday.
         The violence against Rohingyas was an impact the "statelessness"
status of the Rohingya ethnic in Myanmar, according to him.
          The United Development Party (PPP)  considered the humanitarian crisis faced by the Rohingya Muslims has been worrying and therefore the  Muslim-based party called on neighboring countries to open up to help accommodate Rohingya refugees.
          PPP Secretarty General M Romahurmuziy in a statement said the Rohingya genocide is a crime against humanity and gross human right violation.
         PPP condemned the genocide and urged the Indonesian government and other countries to save the Rohingya ethnic minority and the perpetrators must be accountable for the killings and be brought to the international court.
         "We urge the United Nations to help open access for neighboring countries in ASEAN to send relief aid to Myanmar," he said.
        Former Indonesian vice president M Jusuf Kalla urged the government to play an active role in trying to protect Rohingya Muslims by taking diplomatic measures.
         "The (Indonesian) government within the ASEAN framework could pressure Myanmar to stop the violence against Rohingya Muslims in the region," he noted, calling on the Myanmar government to stop discrimination against the Rohingya Muslims.
         "We support the Rohingya ethnic. Myanmar must not be discriminative by allowing the murders and violence (against Rohingya)," Kalla said here Friday.
         Earlier, Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, a political observer of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said Indonesia could play an important role in protecting the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by using the closeness of the two countries' military forces.
         The United Nations and ASEAN were also urged by the the National Awakening Party (PKB) to stop the violence against Rohingyas.
         The secretary of the PKB faction in the Parliament Hanif Dhakiri said Sunday the UN should  be proactive in taking a problem-solving step to prevent further massacre escalation.
        The party also called on ASEAN to hold a meeting as soon as possible  to take the best solution that would protect the rights of the Rohingya minority.
        "We also called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to be more focused on taking the necessary steps to handle the problem in post-slaughter of the Muslim minority," he said.
   Indra, another legislator and politician of Indonesia's Justice and Prosperous Party (PKS), condemned the violence against the ethnic Rohingya and considered the various incidents of genocide, rape, violence, oppression and expulsion against the Rohingyas are a crime against humanity and constitute a gross human rights violation.
        He regretted how the Myanmar government allowed the systematic genocide against the Rohingya Muslims.
         The discrimination and oppression against the Rohingya Muslims have been continuing since a very long time, he alleged.
        "However, the brutality has intensified drastically recently. Over 6,000 people have been killed. Such barbaric acts cannot be tolerated in any civilized society," he added.
        "I urge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to send a diplomatic note to the Myanmar government," he noted.
        As Myanmar is an ASEAN member country, the Indonesian Association of Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI) called on ASEAN to act against the violence  inflicted on Rohingyas.
          ICMI president Prof Nanat Fatah Natsir also urged the Indonesian government to lobby ASEAN  into taking joint action to stop the violence.
          "Indonesia ,through ASEAN , could seek diplomatic discussions with the Myanmar military junta," he said.
          He called on Indonesian Islamic mass organizations to take concrete steps to support the Rohingya people  such as by organizing command posts to send volunteers to that country and bring relief aid in the form of among other things food and medicines.
        Indonesian House Speaker Marzuki Alie in his capacity as the president of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), has sent a letter to his Myanmarese counterpart, Khin Aung Myint, expressing concern about the ethnic conflicts that have claimed the lives of a number of Rohingya Muslims.
           "Myanmar's commitment to democracy should not be limited to letting opposition leader Aung San Su Kyi take part in the general elections; it should be more substantial and include the protection of the Rohingya  Muslims' human rights," he stated.
            The Myanmar government considers the Rohingya community as foreign citizens and illegal immigrants  although they have lived there for generations.
          The Rohingya people are made up of  Muslim migrants from  Persia, Turkey and Bangladesh migrating to Myanmar in the 8th century.
          The United Nations  said  the Rohinya people have suffered decades of  discrimination  treated as stateless people. They can be seen as the Palestinians of Asia, according to some media reports.
           The Myanmar government keeps them under restrictive measure allowing them no right to land  and denying  them  access to education and public services.
        After remaining silent for days, on Monday finally Indonesian Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha made a statement on Rohingya saying that the country will convey its view on Rohingya issue and a number of other issues in an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation  (OIC) scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia in mid-August.
          "The Indonesian government's stance is clear. We will participate actively in efforts through diplomatic channels to help our Muslim brothers," Julian added.
          Indonesia will likely be represented by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa or other officials in the OIC meeting scheduled to discuss about Syria, too.
         The ASEAN Secretary-General, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, recently in Phnom Penh said he had taken a personal interest on Rohingya.  Surin raised the issue of Rohingya directly with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and Bangladesh. They have both promised to cooperate and will keep ASEAN informed.
          "We will keep our eyes and ears on the plight of these unfortunate people," said Surin.
         Meanwhile, the Myanmar government in a press statement Monday stated that the current riots in Rakhine state are not linked to the persecution of any particular ethnic group.
         "In light of the true circumstances and situation, Myanmar totally rejects the attempts by some quarters to politicize and internationalize this situation as a religious issue," it added.
         The statement added that the authorities had taken the necessary steps to deal with the problem and the government was cooperating with religious and community leaders, political parties and social organizations to resolve the issue. "The overall situation is now returning to normalcy," it stated. ***1***

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